ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) countries began their first joint naval exercise named ‘ASEAN Solidarity Exercise’ near the South China Sea on 19 September 2023.
The five-day (19 September to 23 September 2023) exercise is being conducted in the Natuna waters of Indonesia, which is located near the South China Sea.
- ASEAN countries launched this exercise at a time when many member states are reacting more strongly to increasing Chinese aggression in the region.
ASEAN Solidarity Exercise:
- According to Indonesian military chief Admiral Yudo Margono, the non-combat exercise named 'ASEAN Solidarity Exercise' includes joint maritime patrol operations, search and rescue operations and humanitarian and disaster relief.
The objective of the exercise:
- The five-day exercise, held in the Natuna waters of Indonesia, aims to boost military ties and enhance interoperability among ASEAN countries.
ASEAN countries signal China through naval exercise:
- However, this practice has also involved civilian organisations in humanitarian relief and disaster prevention.
- ASEAN countries have previously participated in naval exercises with other countries. In which both America and China used to participate, but in this week's exercise, only ASEAN countries are included.
- This move of ASEAN countries is being seen by strategists as a signal to China.
- China's 'nine-dash line', which it uses to demarcate its claim to most of the South China Sea.
- China's move has embroiled it in a tense standoff with rival claimants Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and the Philippines.
ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations):
- ASEAN was established in 1967 with the signing by the founding nations of the ASEAN Declaration (Bangkok Declaration).
- ASEAN is a group of ten countries which is considered one of the most influential groupings in Southeast Asia.
- ASEAN includes Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Brunei, Philippines, Singapore, Cambodia, Malaysia and Myanmar.
- ASEAN countries are located at strategically important intersections of the Indo-Pacific region, making ASEAN a focal point for regional and global powers.
- Founding Nations: Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand.