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China-Cambodia hold first maritime drills ahead of joint exercise in Cambodian waters

Beijing [China], March 20 (ANI): China and Cambodia have begun their first ever naval drills in Cambodian waters.

Dubbed China-Cambodia Golden Dragon 2023, the maritime drills involve personnel from the People's Liberation Army (PLA) Southern Command bagan on Sunday according to the Chinese Ministry of National Defence.

The Type 071 comprehensive landing ship of the Chinese PLA Navy, which was carrying Chinese troops held an unprecedented drill with Cambodian vessels on Sunday, Global Times reported.

Global Times reported that after a voyage of 100 hours across 1,300 nautical miles, the Type 071 ship Jinggangshan arrived in Cambodian waters and carried out an exercise over coordinated navigation and communications, according to a press release the PLA Southern Theater Command released on the same day.

During the exercise, the Jinggangshan made contact with two patrol boats of the Royal Cambodian Navy and established communications before practising coordinated navigation in different formations.

This is acknowledged as the first time that the militaries of China and Cambodia have conducted such a maritime exercise, said the PLA Southern Theater Command.

"In the two-hour navigation and communication exercise with the Cambodian navy, our organization and command were precise, coordination was close, and communications were smooth," Captain Xu Jinfeng, the commanding officer of the Jinggangshan, said in a Sunday report by China Central Television (CCTV).

The Jinggangshan was carrying Chinese troops from the Army, the Navy and the Joint Logistic Support Force of the PLA Southern Theater Command to participate in the Golden Dragon-2023 joint exercise with Cambodia. The ship set out from Zhanjiang, South China's Guangdong Province on Wednesday.

The joint naval exercise before the official start of the Golden Dragon-2023 joint drills marked a high level of comprehensive military exchange and cooperation between China and Cambodia, a Beijing-based military expert who requested anonymity told the Global Times on Sunday.

More naval interactions like this are expected in the future, the expert said.

During the voyage to Cambodia, the Jinggangshan practised the handling of emergencies in order to boost the ship's capability in long-range delivery, another CCTV report said on Saturday.

The mission honed the sailors' ability to deal with emergencies due to the long voyage, the complex sea situations and the constantly changing weather conditions, the report said.

As the fifth joint exercise, the Golden Dragon-2023 China-Cambodia joint military exercise will be held at a training base in Cambodia from March 20 to April 8. The Golden Dragon series of joint exercises is an annual routine military cooperation activity between the two militaries and the Golden Dragon-2023 is the fifth of such joint exercises, the PLA said in a statement.

More than 200 participating troops from the army, navy and joint logistic support force of the Chinese PLA Southern Theater Command held a set-out ceremony at a military port in Zhanjiang city, southeast China's Guangdong province, on March 15. The content of this exercise mainly includes the joint security exercise for major events, humanitarian work and cultural exchanges, the statement added.

A total of more than 3,000 troops from both sides, with more than 300 units of wheeled vehicles, various types of ordnance, mine-sweeping devices and pandemic-prevention equipment, will participate in the exercise. Several Southeast Asian countries will send military officers to observe the exercise.

The China-Cambodia Golden Dragon-2023 joint military exercise is held to implement the consensus reached by the leaders of China and Cambodia to jointly build a China-Cambodia community with a shared future in the new era.

It aims to consolidate and develop the Comprehensive Strategic Cooperative Partnership between China and Cambodia, increase political mutual trust, expand military exchanges between the two countries and improve the counter-terrorism and humanitarian assistance capabilities of the two militaries. (ANI)