China and Singapore continued joint military exercises as both Beijing and Washington stepped up military engagements with nations in the region.
In the fifth edition of the bilateral war games, launched in 2009, the PLA and the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) will carry out drills focused on urban counterterrorism operations.
The exercises come just days after Singapore hosted the US-led counterterrorism naval exercises “Southeast Asia Cooperation and Training (SEACAT)”, which involved 21 countries.
“[Exercise Cooperation 2023] underscores the warm and friendly bilateral defence relations between Singapore and China,” a statement by Singapore’s Ministry of Defence said.
The commander of the Chinese troops taking part in the drills said they hope to “expand, deepen and raise the level of cooperation … and promote traditional friendship”, according to a report by PLA Daily.
The operations will include sniper tactics, fast roping, rappelling, hand-to-hand combat, small-arms live fire, and cohesion activities.
The drills will “allow both sides to strengthen professional ties, foster people-to-people bonds, as well as enhance mutual trust and understanding between both militaries”, according to the Singaporean statement.
This is the first “Exercise Cooperation” between the two armies since it was paused after 2019 because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
In 2019, China and Singapore upgraded a bilateral defence pact to include larger-scale exercises between the two militaries.
In addition to bilateral and multilateral exercises, the two defence forces also collaborate regularly through high-level exchanges, mutual visits, training and academic exchanges, and port calls.