China and ASEAN plan joint maritime maneuvers for October

China claims disaster rescue operations are the focus

China's Navy plans October drills with ASEAN.

China's Navy plans October drills with ASEAN. (By Associated Press)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) - China has reportedly proposed holding joint military maneuvers with member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), according to a report by Kyodo News.

The invitation, reportedly made in early August, comes despite China’s disputes with several ASEAN members over islands and reefs in the South China Sea.

Beijing also wants joint exercises with “countries from outside the region” to be announced beforehand, a move thought to be aimed at the United States, which has spoken out in defense of free passage and against the militarization of small islands in the region.

If no consensus is reached about such drills, then they should not take place at all, China apparently insisted, according to the Kyodo report.

The joint exercises with ASEAN were planned for late October off the coast of Guangdong Province but were designed to help with rescue operations in the event of a major maritime disaster, Chinese officials said.

China and Vietnam reportedly still differed on the need for the “Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea” from 2002 to have legal validity, with Beijing saying there was no need, the Liberty Times reported.