Chinese, Singaporean armies begin joint military drills around the city state

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.

chinese singaporean armies begin joint military drills around the city state 1


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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 PLA soldiers from the 74th Army Group of the Southern Theatre Command will join forces with the SAF’s 3rd Singapore Division and 1st Commando Battalion, in a battalion-level command post exercise with a rescue scenario.

The operations will include sniper tactics, fast roping, rappelling, hand-to-hand combat, small-arms live fire, and cohesion activities.

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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.

The Chinese and Singaporean navies conducted their own joint military drills at the end of April, in which missile frigates and minesweepers from both navies practised various communication scenarios and manoeuvres.


In 2019, China and Singapore upgraded a bilateral defence pact to include larger-scale exercises between the two militaries.

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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.


Singapore maintains strong military ties with the United States and hosts the US armed forces in its naval and airbases – strategically located between the Strait of Malacca and the South China Sea – through pacts.
But amid heightened tensions between Beijing and Washington in the Indo-Pacific, Singapore has also attempted to balance its position. It has avoided referring to the US as an “ally”, while at the same time it has strengthened defence cooperation with China.


South China Morning Post

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