On August 27, the Chinese defense ministry announced that the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and the Malaysian Armed Forces (MAF) would hold their first ever joint live-troop exercise next month.
The exercise, code-named “Peace and Friendship 2015,” will be held in the Malacca Strait during the second half of September. The focus, according to Chinese defense ministry spokesman Yang Yujun, will be the joint execution of non-war operations. It will include training items like joint maritime escorts, the combined search and rescue of hijacked ships, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, and a gunnery exercise.
The exercise will be read as a boost to the bilateral defense relationship and the China-Malaysia comprehensive strategic partnership more generally. While the two countries had held their first ever bilateral military drills in December 2014 last year under the banner of “Peace and Friendship 2014,” that was a joint table-top exercise held at the MAF Joint Warfare Center. This year would mark the first time that the PLA and MAF have conducted a joint live-troop exercise.