Southeast Asian navies to hold drills with China next week

ASEAN defense ministers attend the Association of Southeast Asian Nations security summit in Singapore. (AFP)
Updated 19 October 2018

Southeast Asian navies to hold drills with China next week

  • The planned exercises would ‘enhance friendship and confidence between ASEAN member states’ navies and the People’s Liberation Army Navy and the US Navy’

SINGAPORE: Southeast Asian navies are heading to their first joint exercises with China in its southern waters next week, and defense officials agreed Friday to conduct a similar drill with the US next year.
Singapore’s Defense Minister Ng Eng Hen said the drills next week in waters surrounding Zhanjiang will build trust and confidence among the navies participating.
The defense ministers of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations said in a joint declaration their planned exercises in 2019 would “enhance friendship and confidence between ASEAN member states’ navies and the People’s Liberation Army Navy and the US Navy.”
The officials said at a news conference that the location and extent of the second exercise had not been decided.
ASEAN defense ministers are in Singapore with US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and his Chinese counterpart, Gen. Wei Feng, for an Asian security conference this weekend.
Mattis said he remains keen for a “constructive relationship” with China but expressed concern about its military activities in the disputed South China Sea.
By working with ASEAN and other partners, the US affirms that “no single nation can rewrite the international rules of the road,” he added.
The exercises with China’s navy next week will include operations like maritime safety, medical evacuation, and search and rescue procedures.
Asked if it holding the exercise in the South China Sea was contentious, Ng said all countries had the right of navigation and military activities consistent with international law.
China and other Asian governments have rival claims to parts of the South China Sea. Chinese military activity in the disputed areas is viewed by Washington as irresponsible while Beijing complains of an inappropriate US military presence.
“Having an exercise with one but not the other could be misinterpreted as being partial. As such, the optics are vital,” said Eugene Tan, an associate professor of law at Singapore Management University.
“It’s the attempt at ensuring that both countries and their militaries are engaged with the region. It’s another but important manifestation of the balance of powers approach at work,” he added.


School pupils among 12 dead in Slovak crash on ‘Road of Death’

Updated 13 November 2019

School pupils among 12 dead in Slovak crash on ‘Road of Death’

  • According to reports on Slovak commercial TV channel Markiza, the truck skidded and hit the bus from the side
  • Some 30 firefighters are at the scene to help the injured, while rescuers have deployed helicopters and sent in psychologists

BRATISLAVA: At least 12 people were killed, including four students, when a public bus carrying school pupils and a truck loaded with rocks and soil collided in mountainous western Slovakia on Wednesday, rescuers and officials said.
Officials said 20 people were hurt in the crash, which happened on the outskirts of the city of Nitra, a regional capital some 80 kilometers (50 miles) east of Bratislava, around 1:00 p.m. local time (1200 GMT).
The section where the accident occurred is commonly referred to as the “Road of Death,” according to local media.
Images from the site showed the truck lying on its side and the bus wedged in a ditch, with a large amount of soil and rocks strewn on the road.
“Mostly teenagers, secondary grammar students, were aboard this regular bus line from Nitra to Jelenec,” Nitra fire brigade spokesman Michal Varga told AFP, adding that the truck was “fully loaded with rocks.”
He added that the cause of the crash was unknown.
The fire and rescue department said on its Facebook page that the toll was 12 dead and 20 injured.
Minister of Health Andrea Kalavska told journalists at the accident site that of those killed “at least four were underage.”
Interior Minister Denisa Sakova told the press at the scene that the truck was “probably overloaded.”
According to reports on Slovak commercial TV channel Markiza, the truck skidded and hit the bus from the side.
The bus serves as a regular line between Nitra and the village of Jelenec east of the city.
Rescuers at first put the number of dead at 13, before correcting the toll.
Some 30 firefighters are at the scene to help the injured, while rescuers have deployed helicopters and sent in psychologists.
They said rescue work was hampered by bad weather as Slovakia was hit by heavy rain on Wednesday, although there was no rain when the accident occurred.