The AMAN-23 multinational maritime exercise, hosted by the Pakistan Navy with the participation of about 50 countries including China, wrapped up with an international fleet review on Tuesday, with the guided missile destroyer Nanning of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy winning praise from Pakistan’s naval chief.
China’s participation in the joint drills marks a boost in its military exchange and cooperation with foreign countries, which have been hindered by the COVID-19 pandemic over the past three years, and more such activities will take place, experts said on Wednesday.
The five-day exercise that started on Friday culminated on Tuesday in the North Arabian Sea with an international fleet review followed by the spectacular AMAN Formation, comprising the Pakistan Navy and foreign naval ships including the Type 052D destroyer Nanning of the PLA Navy, with Prime Minister of Pakistan Shehbaz Sharif in attendance.
The drills started with seminars, operational discussions and professional demonstrations among other preparations in harbor, before switching to the sea where scenarios included tactical maneuvers, anti-piracy, counterterrorism, search and rescue, live-fire shooting as well as air defense exercises.
Having closely cooperated with forces from other countries, the PLA Navy ship Nanning displayed a high level of professionalism as well as command and control capability, as the drills enhanced the participants’ capabilities to deal with maritime security threats together and demonstrated their determination to jointly safeguard maritime security, said the PLA Navy in a statement on Wednesday.
The traditional friendship between China and Pakistan was highlighted in the Nanning‘s port call in Karachi, with Pakistan’s Chief of Naval Staff Admiral M Amjad Khan Niazi among other high-ranking Pakistan Navy officers boarding the Chinese ship during the exercise. Niazi said at the international fleet review on Tuesday that the Nanning is a wonderful ship.
Some 50 countries participated in the AMAN-23, with Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and the US also sending warships.
It marks China’s first major military diplomatic event since it entered a post-COVID era this year, observers said.
The drills hosted by the Pakistan Navy served as a bridge that allowed countries to display their capabilities and conduct face-to-face meetings, which enabled them to enhance mutual understanding, Song Zhongping, a Chinese military expert and TV commentator, told the Global Times on Wednesday.
China’s military development serves to safeguard world peace and regional stability, as it will continue to boost military exchanges and cooperation with more countries in the future, Song said.
It can enhance military transparency between countries and help control and manage differences, Song said. “China is confident, and is willing to communicate,” he said.
China’s next foreign military exchange event is expected to come soon, as South Africa will host a joint exercise with Russia and China on its east coast from Friday to February 27, Reuters reported in January.
During AMAN-23, the participating US warship failed to make a port call in Karachi and only showed up during the sea phase, the Global Times learned.
It shows that the US Navy was not confident and was not willing to communicate with China and others, Song said.
“The US often accuses China of being not transparent with its military, but in fact, it is the US that is not transparent,” Song said.