China to hold drills with Malaysia in Malacca Strait

BEIJING • China will hold joint military drills next month with Malaysia in the Strait of Malacca, as well as training exercises with Australia and the United States, set to take place in Australia.

China's rapidly modernising armed forces have been widening their global reach and carrying out exercises in ever more distant locations, as it seeks to protect its interests around the world.

But Beijing has jangled nerves, especially in territorial disputes over the South and East China seas.

Yesterday, it held large-scale air and sea exercises in the East China Sea, state news agency Xinhua said - the third time in the past two months that it has conducted such live-fire maritime drills.

Chinese Defence Ministry spokesman Yang Yujun said yesterday that the Malacca Strait drill would involve 1,160 Chinese personnel and two Chinese warships, as well as helicopters and transport aircraft.

The exercise would focus on disaster relief, search and rescue, and hijack rescue, Mr Yang said.

Meanwhile, a military spokesman for the Philippines, Colonel Restituto Padilla, said yesterday that it had sought help from the US to monitor "real-time" developments in the South China Sea, in the face of China's rapid expansion in the area.

Beijing claims most of the South China Sea, where the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei also have overlapping claims.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 28, 2015, with the headline 'China to hold drills with Malaysia in Malacca Strait'. Print Edition | Subscribe