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China Defense Minister Proposes Joint China-ASEAN Military Exercises in the South China Sea

May 26, 2016 (EIRNS)—While Obama is busy hyping up the Group of 7 to denounce China for threatening freedom of navigation in the South China Sea, China’s Defense Minister Chang Wanquan was inviting all the ASEAN Defense Ministers, who are meeting in Laos, to join in a China-ASEAN military exercise in the South China Sea.

Chang told Obama to stop "playing up the issue of freedom of navigation in the South China Sea as it has never been a problem," Xinhua reported.

At the same 6th China-ASEAN Defense Ministers meeting in Laos, Chinese Rear Admiral Guan Youfei, director of the Office for International Military Cooperation of the Chinese Central Military Commission, said the issue itself is a false proposition. He told the media after the meeting that

"over 100,000 vessels pass through the South China Sea each year, and none has claimed to have encountered any hindrance, trouble or danger. The situation points to the fact that freedom of navigation is never threatened in the South China Sea and therefore not a problem," Xinhua reported.

Going further, Defense Minister Chang said that

"To further boost defense and security cooperation between China and ASEAN, the Chinese army hopes to hold a joint drill with the armies of the ASEAN countries in the South China Sea at an early date, including code on unplanned encounters at sea."

He added:

"Peace, development, cooperation and win-win have become the trend of the times, he said, calling on all concerned parties to follow the trend and play a constructive role in maintaining regional peace, stability, development and prosperity."

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