China seeks military drills with Asean in disputed sea

China seeks military drills with Asean in disputed sea

China seeks military drills with Asean in disputed sea

"We will use these drills as a starting point to expand China and Asean's military communications and security cooperation, to together face security concerns and to protect the stability of the region", Wang told a news conference.

To bolster security in the Indo-Pacific Region, the USA only Saturday committed United States dollars 300 million to tackle China's growing influence.

China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have arrived at a single draft negotiating text of the Code of Conduct (COC) in the South China Sea, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Thursday.

Ahead of his trip, Pompeo announced $113 million in new regional investments for the Indo-Pacific focused on technology, energy and infrastructure.

With the region being home to some of the world's largest economies, the US, China, Japan, India and Indonesia, Indo-Pacific cooperation could combine a total gross domestic product (GDP) of more than US$43 trillion.

Captain Liang Zhijia, deputy chief of operations in the Naval Forces of China's People's Liberation Army, said the exercises are a good platform to build confidence, cooperation and understanding between the country's navies.

South Korea's Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha (L) shakes hands with her Japanese counterpart Taro Kono in Singapore talks on August 2, 2018.

One reason for caution is that the region has been wrong-footed by USA advances before.

Last year, the release of the customary communique at the end of the meetings was delayed with reports suggesting that there was a lack of consensus on how to refer to disputes in the South China Sea.

"We have made leapfrog progress in advancing ASEAN-China relations from quantity to quality", he added, saying the first joint maritime exercises would be held in October.

Its President Rodrigo Duterte frequently praises Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping and in February caused a stir when he jokingly offered the Philippines to Beijing as a province of China. The U.S. military has deployed its massive aircraft carriers, warships and fighter jets to patrol the disputed waters, including areas close to China's artificial islands, in maneuvers it says aim to promote freedom of navigation and overflight in the strategic waterway.

Thai foreign ministry spokesperson Busadee Santipitaks told Reuters the country was proceeding with "a balanced approach" towards the United States and China.

While not specifying the exact security assistance to be given, Pompeo said the funds were just a "down payment" on Washington's commitment to the region. This pledge from the United States comes at a time when the Indo-Pacific tirade between the U.S. and China has intensified. It is seen by many as an attempt to reassure USA allies of Washington's commitment to the region, especially after pulling out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement.

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