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Country conducts maritime exercise with the Philippines
Updated: 2004-10-22 01:27

The Chinese maritime administration and other concerned agencies and the Philippine Coast Guard held here the first-ever joint table search and rescue (SAR) exercise Thursday.

The bilateral event -- dubbed "China - Philippines Co-operation 2004" -- included table top exercises aimed to further strengthen co-operation between the Maritime Safety Administration (MSA) of the People's Republic of China and the Philippine Coast Guard. It also seeks to foster harmonious relationships between the personnel of the two countries.

The exercise, conducted in a war room in the Philippine Coast Guard headquarters, simulated an oil tanker with 28 crew members on board catching on fire somewhere in the middle of South China Sea.

As distress signal was sent and received, Chinese agencies and the Philippine side conducted joint search-and-rescue operations, utilizing their respective resources in order to save lives of the crew members as well as the ill-fated tanker.

"Indeed the time has come for these two neighboring nations to show close co-operation in performing search-and-rescue exercises. This table exercise is the first big step, in preparation for a long journey, in which both countries will co-operate in the preservation of life through actual operations," said Philippine Coast Guard deputy commandant Rear Admiral Danilo Abinoja at the opening ceremony. It was also attended by Commandant Vice Admiral Arthur Gosingan.

Abinoja said the table top exercise will be significant in understanding each others agencies and expected that the two countries will find creative ways to strengthen rescue capabilities in the region and make the maritime environment safer for the public and ships at sea.

After many months spent planning the exercise, the event will test the readiness of each country in the event a maritime disaster occurs in the South China Sea and a contingency plan will be drawn up to serve as guide for co-operation.

"Through this first-ever exercise, we hope the maritime and concerned agencies of the two countries can further coordinate with each other and promote mutual understanding to pursue safer shipping and cleaner oceans," Chinese delegates leader and MSA Deputy Director General Zheng Heping said.

Zheng said this event, in a way, will heighten the co-operation in additional sectors between China and the Philippines as good neighbours with confidence-building measures through a maritime professional skill exchange and hoped that an actual maritime exercise will be held in a good time.

Nine delegates from Chinese MSA, ministry of Defence, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Agriculture and Ministry of Communications and 30 personnel from the Philippine Coast Guard, Department of Foreign Affairs, among others, joined the event.

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