Beijing, Singapore Launch Joint Military Drills in South China Sea in Bid to Boost Regional Defences

The statement comes after both nations inked an agreement in 2019 to boost military ties, following joint naval exercises in 2016, Chinese media reported, adding the agreement would include high-level talks and academic exchanges, among others.

Beijing announced on Wednesday it will conduct joint military drills with Singapore in a bid to strengthen defence capabilities with Southeast Asian neighbours.

China’s Defence Ministry said in a short statement the drills with the Singapore Navy would involve search and rescue operations along with communication exercises.

Both parties also agreed to increase the scope and scale of current bilateral exercises, the report added.

The announcement comes amid rising tensions in the South China Sea with the United States and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which has disrupted Beijing’s plans to boost military ties in the region, the SCMP reported.

The news also follows alleged freedom of navigation operations from Washington in the South China Sea in February, despite many plans being blocked by the ongoing pandemic.

China’s massive joint exercises with Cambodia’s military, following the two nations’ Golden Dragon drills, were due to take place in March but were suspended by the latter, citing the pandemic and heavy flooding in the country, the report read.

But Koh noted the joint China-Singapore exercises were a sign Beijing aimed to consolidate ties with Southeast Asia.

The developments come after US President Joe Biden pledged to…

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