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Brunei's Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah on Thursday lauded the Chinese military as he inspected a Chinese-built heavy truck for mechanized bridges as well as the country's sappers.
Fifty Chinese sappers were participating in the first ASEAN Defense Ministers' Meeting Plus Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief and Military Medicine Exercise, held from Monday to Friday in Brunei.
Officials and observers said the exercise, based on the scenario of a typhoon and subsequent flooding and mudslides, helped participants to improve trust and coordination to jointly address non-traditional challenges in the natural disaster-prone region.
During an inspection tour, Bolkiah said he was "impressed" by the joint exercise — which involved 18 countries — and the Chinese military's performance in it.
Wang Guanzhong, the deputy chief of general staff of the People's Liberation Army, said the Chinese military had done all that it could to support the joint exercise and demonstrate its capability.
China sent 110 personnel to join in the exercise. The other 17 participants included ten ASEAN nations as well as Australia, India, Japan, New Zealand, Russia, South Korea and the US.
Xing Weihua, a commander from the PLA's Guangzhou Military Area Command, said it was the first time a Chinese sapper team had joined a multi-national exercise.
"We faced challenges everywhere, but we overcame them and have done a great job," he said.
Li Hongtao, a dentist working in a field hospital with Singapore's medical team, said the experience enabled him to better prepare himself for international aid in a real disaster scenario.
Zhang Jian, a researcher at the Department for Asia-Pacific Security and Cooperation under the China Institute of International Studies, said China's positive participation could boost its non-traditional security cooperation with the ASEAN countries, which lagged behind their thriving cooperation in the economic field.