China aims for deeper regional military ties in bid for stability in South China Sea

Beijing vows closer defence cooperation with Malaysia, Myanmar and Thailand ahead of court ruling that could drive wedge into Asean bloc

China has vowed to beef up military cooperation with several Southeast Asian nations after the US announced it was lifting a decades-old ban on the sale of lethal military equipment to Vietnam.

The pledges of a deeper partnership with Malaysia, Myanmar and Thailand also came amid escalating regional tensions over territorial claims in the South China Sea and ahead of an international court ruling that could potentially drive a wedge among Asean members.

Central Military Commission vice-chairman Xu Qiliang said China would step up military cooperation with Malaysia to safeguard regional stability and maintain China’s friendly relationship with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Xinhua reported.

Xu met the head of the Malaysian navy, Admiral Dato’ Seri Panglima Ahmad Kamarulzaman bin Haji Ahmad Badaruddin, in Beijing on Tuesday.

Without elaborating, Xu also said China strongly opposed any intention by individual countries to escalate tensions in the South China Sea, the report said.

Also on Tuesday, Defence Minister Chang Wanquan vowed to strengthen cooperation with armed forces in Myanmar and Thailand – both Asean members. An informal meeting between the defence ministers of China and the regional grouping kicked off in Vientiane, Laos, on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, comprising China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, said the bloc “supports the efforts by the Chinese government to maintain peace and stability in the South China Sea”.

Full article: China aims for deeper regional military ties in bid for stability in South China Sea (South China Morning Post)

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