China and ASEAN countries kicked off the China-ASEAN Maritime Exercise-2018 in Zhanjiang, China on October 22, 2018. It was the first time that China and ASEAN organized a joint maritime military exercise, and was also the first time that ASEAN conducted a joint exercise with a single country. China and ten ASEAN countries, including Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam, participated in the exercise by dispatching ships or sending observers.
The joint exercise consisted of three stages: port-shore activities, offshore exercises, and exercise summary. During the exercise, eight ships, three helicopters, and more than 1,200 personnel from China and ten ASEAN countries successfully completed 6 subjects of exercises, including formation departure, formation communication, formation movement, joint search and rescue, helicopter deck landing and supply maneuver. In addition, the participants also held seminars on military medicine and diving operations, observed the maneuver for man overboard, organized tactical tabletop exercises, and held ship openings, cultural exchange, and sports activities.
The joint exercise has not only created a new platform for the exchanges between the Chinese Navy and the navies of ASEAN countries, but also established a new channel for exchanges between the navies of ASEAN countries. In this joint exercise, the navies from China and ASEAN countries have not only improved their tactical skills but also enhanced mutual understanding and friendship. As the ancient Chinese poem says, “Long-distance separates no bosom friends.” In the future, this camaraderie will also strengthen the ties between China and ASEAN countries as they work together to maintain regional peace and stability.