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China Hosts Military Exercises with Five ASEAN Nations

China is hosting the annual Aman Youyi (Peace and Friendship) 2023, which began on Nov. 13 and will conclude on Nov. 22. The drills are being staged in Zhanjiang, a port city in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong

Troops from China, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam attended the opening ceremony, which China hosted for the first time since the drills began in 2014; Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam participated for the first time. China Military Online wrote on Nov. 14: “More than 3,000 participants take part in the exercise, which will last until Nov. 22. Focusing on joint anti-terrorist efforts and safeguarding maritime security, the exercise is divided into land and maritime directions, and carried out in forms of joint training, joint commanding, and multidimensional live drills.

“The exercise aims to enhance the capabilities of all participating parties for urban and maritime counter-terrorism and anti-piracy operations, deepen military mutual trust and pragmatic cooperation, and jointly preserve regional peace and stability.”

The Philippines had previously participated as an observer, but isn’t participating this year. There have been numerous clashes between Chinese and Filipino ships in the contested South China Sea in recent weeks.

Reuters reported on Nov. 18 that Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. met with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Nov. 17, “seeking ways to come up with ways to reduce tensions in the South China Sea and restore Filipino fishermen’s access to fishing grounds.

“The Philippines and China need to continue to communicate, with the meeting a key part of the process to maintain peace, and keep open sea lanes and airways over the South China Sea, Marcos told reporters on the sidelines of the APEC Summit in San Francisco.”