China, Asean hold simulated naval drill

South Korea's Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha shakes hands and her Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov during a Singapore meeting on Aug. 2 2018

Singapore's navy hosted the computer-simulated drills at a training center at Changi naval base.

Aside from China and Taiwan, ASEAN members Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Vietnam have had overlapping claims in the South China Sea, where a bulk of the commerce and oil that fuel's Asia's bustling economies transits through.

It's a successful prelude to actual maneuvers at sea that are planned for October in China, said Col. Lim Yu Chuan of the Singapore navy.

Captain Liang Zhijia of the Chinese navy said the simulated and field drills are good platforms to build trust and confidence.

The U.S. accused China of deploying "anti-ship missiles, surface-to-air missile (SAM) systems, and electronic jammers" on the Spratly Islands and argued that "China's continued militarization of disputed features in the South China Sea only serve to raise tensions and destabilize the region".

China has accused the United States of meddling in an Asian dispute.

"We are all acutely aware of the storm clouds of the trade war", Singapore's Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan said at the opening of an ASEAN foreign ministers meeting on Thursday that precedes meetings with the United States and other nations.

As the Philippines has assumed the role of ASEAN-China country coordinator, China will strengthen coordination with the Philippines to promote China-ASEAN ties and regional cooperation, Wang said.

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

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.

"The United States is a Pacific nation, and we remain committed to Asean centrality under our Indo-Pacific strategy", he said. China has come under intense criticisms for the aggressive action but it has said it has the right to build on its territory and defend them at all costs.

Other Asian and Western nations have weighed in on the territorial conflicts, calling for the rule of law to be upheld and the disputes to be resolved peacefully, and not by force or intimidation.

At a meeting in Singapore, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini assured her Southeast Asian counterparts that they could count on Europe as a free trade partner.

"Firstly, we urge the USA side to adopt a correct attitude and not attempt to blackmail China because it will not work", Geng told reporters during a regular press briefing.

"We welcome the further strengthening (of) our cooperation in cybersecurity with Russia through the issuance of the statement of ASEAN and Russian foreign ministers", the draft of the ten-member communique stated, adding that the title of the statement could change depending on negotiations.

Pompeo is also focusing on another major regional flashpoint at the forum - rival claims in the South China Sea and China's growing presence there. The South China Sea is considered a powder keg in a region where varying claimants have had armed confrontations. A counter-terrorism symposium and cybersecurity workshop will be held in Singapore later this year to encourage inter-state dialogue on how to combat the root cause of terrorism, violent extremism, and radicalism.

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