US, China hold joint naval drills in Indonesia despite increasing rifts

Jakarta, Jun 5 (EFE).- The United States and China have sent warships to join the peacetime international naval drills in Indonesia that began on Monday, despite increasing diplomatic, military and economic tensions between the two superpowers.

The 4th Komodo Multilateral Naval Exercises (MNEK 2023) set to be held between June 5-8, include navies from 36 countries including US, China, Spain, United Kingdom, Japan, Russia, Chile, France and South Korea among others, the Indonesian Navy said in a statement on Monday.

“MNEK is a non-war exercise which prioritizes maritime cooperation in the region in disaster management, and humanitarian operations,” the statement said.

The naval drills include activities such as ice-breaking, international fleet review, international maritime security symposium, city parade, bilateral meetings, and maritime exhibition among other activities.

The MNEK-2023 is taking place in Makassar, the provincial capital of South Sulawesi province, while the three previous editions of the dills were held in 2014, 2016 and 2018 respectively in both the country’s east and west.

China has sent its two military ships – the guided missile destroyer Zhanjiang and the Type 054A guided missile frigate Xuchang- for the MNEK-2023 drills, which arrived in the Indonesian waters on Sunday, according to Chinese state media.

The joint naval drills take place at a time when Washington and Beijing are engaged multiple military, diplomatic and economic tussles over a number of Indo-Pacific disputes, particularly the issue of Taiwan, a self-ruled Island that China considers its territory.

The US Navy on Monday released a video of a Chinese ship intercepting the US destroyer USS Chung-Hoon near the Taiwan Strait on Saturday in an “unsafe” maneuver and narrowly avoiding a collision at the last moment.

The US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Chinese Defense Chief Li Shangfu last week participated in a defense summit in Singapore, but did not hold a bilateral meeting on the sidelines as anticipated. EFE


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