The amphibious dock landing ships Wuzhishan (Hull 987), Kunlunshan (Hull 998) and Changbaishan (Hull 989) attached to a landing ship flotilla with the navy under the PLA Southern Theater Command steam alongside in waters of the South China Sea during a maritime training exercise on November 18, 2020. The exercise lasted four days, focusing on 10 subjects including comprehensive defense, Landing Craft Air Cushion’s (LCAC) transfer, visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) operation, and live-fire operations. (eng.chinamil.com.cn/Photo by Liu Jian)
A Type 071 comprehensive landing ship is carrying Chinese troops on their way to participate in a large-scale joint exercise with Cambodia, marking yet another major event in a busy month of foreign military exchanges by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA).
In accordance with a bilateral agreement, the armed forces of China and Cambodia will hold the Golden Dragon-2023 joint exercise in Cambodia from late March to early April, with the subject of the exercise being operations for the security of important events and humanitarian aid, China’s Ministry of National Defense said in a press release on Wednesday.
More than 200 troops from the Army, the Navy and the Joint Logistic Support Force of the PLA Southern Theater Command held a departure ceremony on Wednesday in Zhanjiang, South China’s Guangdong Province, on the flight deck of the Jinggangshan, a Type 071 comprehensive landing ship, China Central Television (CCTV) reported on the day.
After the ceremony, the Chinese forces set sail for a port in Cambodia, where they will mobilize motorized vehicles to the exercise area, CCTV reported.
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The goal of the exercise is to further advance the comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership between China and Cambodia, enhance political mutual trust, expand military exchanges, and boost the two militaries’ capabilities in anti-terrorism work and humanitarian aid, the report said.
More than 3,000 personnel and over 300 vehicles will participate in the drill, which is the fifth such joint exercise between China and Cambodia, CCTV said.
The Golden Dragon-2023 exercise comes amid China’s intensive foreign military exchanges. Other major events include the ongoing China-Iran-Russia joint naval exercise in the Gulf of Oman, the China-Russia-South Africa joint naval exercise off the South African coast in late February, the AMAN-23 multinational maritime drills in Pakistan in early February, the Edelweiss Raid 2023 international mountain infantry competition in Austria in late February, and the Cobra Gold 2023 joint exercise in Thailand from February to March.
China’s participation in all of these exercises is focused on communication, exchanges and cooperation to boost understanding and joint capabilities. The training subjects focused on safeguarding regional peace and stability from non-traditional security threats such as terrorism, piracy and natural disasters, a Chinese military expert who requested anonymity told the Global Times on Thursday.
In the post-COVID era, the Chinese military will continue to resume, expand and deepen foreign exchanges, contributing to peace and stability and displaying China’s international responsibilities, Zhuo Hua, an international affairs expert at the School of International Relations and Diplomacy of Beijing Foreign Studies University, told the Global Times.
By comparison, the US has been rallying gangs in exercises that stir up regional military tension and serve its hegemonic geopolitical aims, experts said, citing events like the recent US-Philippines Balikatan exercise, the US-Japan Iron Fist exercise and the US-South Korea Ulchi Freedom Shield exercise.
The world should see that the Chinese military is providing public security goods to the international community and acting as a stability factor for peace, while the US is creating tensions and even conflicts for its own interests, observers said.