China-ASEAN Exercises Expected to Ease Tension and Risks
China is expected to hold its first joint military exercises with a group of Southeast Asian nations later this year.
China and the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN, agreed to the exercises during a meeting in Singapore last month.
Singapore's defense ministry released a statement at the meeting. It said ASEAN defense ministers "welcomed" the chance to hold maritime exercises with China. The joint exercises are expected to happen before the end of 2018.
Experts say the goal of the exercises is to train naval forces from countries operating in the South China Sea to deal with possible conflicts and avoid accidents. They would also work to develop a code of conduct that aims to set rules to keep the sea safe for shipping.
ASEAN members and China are still working on final language for the code of conduct, which could be completed this year.
Six governments have competing claims in the South China Sea, which acts as a pathway for one third of the world's shipping traffic. China claims about 90 percent of the sea as its territory and often sends coast guard ships throughout the waterway.
China has also been building up man-made islands in the South China Sea in recent years – some of which support military structures. The expansion has angered other nations which also have territorial claims in the area.
But clashes and shipping accidents in the South China Sea are rare. Military experts say one reason for this is the development of a code of conduct. Competing nations also use widespread surveillance and have learned to watch out for one another.
One part of the joint exercises is expected to involve a simulation of a conflict situation in the South China Sea.
Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana recently suggested the exercises might start out with a "table top" exercise. This usually describes an operation that simulates emergencies but does not involve sending ships to sea.
Carl Thayer is a Southeast Asia expert with the University of New South Wales in Australia. He says the exercises should be a chance to let different countries exchange skills in fighting fires and rescuing people after boat crashes.
He added that the joint operation can be a good way for military officials to build trust in case they ever come across each other in a possible clash at sea.
"Theoretically, in a crisis or unexpected situation you have that kind of trust already, that people do know who they're dealing with. So that's always seen as an important part militarily and ships even more so because they're isolated rather than units on the ground."
Thayer says China sees the exercises as the beginning of more long-term military cooperation with ASEAN nations in the future.
The U.S. does not claim any part of the South China Sea. But it has sent ships to the area to carry out "freedom of navigation" exercises. Such operations are meant to show military force and support free movement of shipping in international waters.
Jonathan Spangler is director of the South China Sea Think Tank in Taipei. He says a joint military exercise involving claimants in the South China Sea would mark an important step in developing relations. But he believes resolving the complex territorial issues is more of a long-term problem.
"It all depends whether or not China and ASEAN can keep up the positive momentum," Spangler said. "Because the underlying disputes have not been resolved yet, that may prove difficult in the long run."
I'm Bryan Lynn.
1.joint military exercises 联合军事演习
Last week, about 44,000 American and Japanese military personnel took part in joint military exercises.
2.keep up 保持；维持
Things are changing so fast, it's hard to keep up.
3.dealing with 处理；打交道
We know we're dealing with someone with a different frame of reference.
4.in the future 未来
We expect better of you in the future.
5.Competing nations also use widespread surveillance and have learned to watch out for one another.
watch out 小心；堤防
You have to watch out because there are land mines all over the place.
You'll lose your girlish figure if you don't watch out.
6."Because the underlying disputes have not been resolved yet, that may prove difficult in the long run."
in the long run 从长远来看；终究
If the government clamps down on the protestors, that will only serve to strengthen them in the long run.
These changes will cost a lot, but they will save us money in the long run.
新加坡国防部在会议上发布了一份声明 。声明中指出，东盟各国的国防部长对与中国进行海上联合军演的机遇表示“欢迎” 。预计，联合军演将于2018年底之前进行 。
专家称，军演目的是训练在中国南海作业的国家的海军力量，以应对可能发生的冲突，避免发生意外 。同时也致力于制定一套行为准则，为航海安全保驾护航 。
六个国家政府曾争夺南海主权，而全球三分之一的航运都要经过该海域 。其中，中国掌控着南海90%的主权，并派遣海警进行巡航 。
近年来，中国在南海建造人工岛，其中一些岛屿建有军事设施 。对该海域提出领土要求的国家对中国的举动表示不满 。
然而，中国南海很少发生冲突和航运事故 。军事专家指出，其中一个原因是制定了行为准则 。这些国家对南海进行布防、监测，彼此之间互相监督 。
菲律宾国防部长德尔芬·洛伦扎纳（Delfin Lorenzana）建议，此次军演可能会从“桌面”练习开始 。这种练习通常是指模拟突发事件，但是不包括派遣军舰出海 。
澳大利亚新南威尔士大学的卡尔·塞耶（Carl Thayer）教授是东南亚问题专家 。他说，这次军演提供了一个机会，让各国交流消防技能以及船只失事后营救人员等工作 。
“从理论上来讲，在危机或意外情况下，人们之间已经取得信任，知道是在跟谁打交道 。这一点在军事领域很重要，尤其是对于船只来说，因为与陆地上的队伍相比，船只是孤立的 。”
虽然美国没有与中国争夺南海主权，但却向南海派出军舰并声称进行“自由航海”活动 。此举意在展示其军事力量，并支持在公海自由航行 。
乔纳森·斯潘格勒（Jonathan Spangler）是中国台北南海智库的负责人 。他说，中国与东盟国家联合军演标志着国家关系发展的重要一步 。但是他坚信，解决复杂的领土争端是一项长期问题 。