The Royal Brunei Navy's (RBN) first participation at the Multilateral Maritime Exercise (MMEx) in Qingdao, China marks a historic moment for both countries, said the acting Chinese ambassador to Brunei yesterday.
"It shows that China and Brunei could trust each other," said Fang Xinwen on the sidelines of a send-off ceremony for the KDB Darulehsan at the Muara Naval Base.
KDB Darulehsan set sail for the MMEx hosted by China's People Liberation Army (PLA) Navy from April 20 to 24, where nine countries are expected to join naval drills to boost interoperability among the participating warships.
Fang described the military-to-military exchange as a very important component of the bilateral relationship, serving as the parameter of maturity between Brunei and China.
Following the MMEx, an International Fleet Review is also slated to take place to mark the 65th founding anniversary of the PLA Navy. Fang viewed KDB Darulehsan's participation in the International Fleet Review as "a very friendly gesture" from Brunei.
"I hope this would be the milestone or first step towards greater and deeper cooperation between the two navies, armed services and countries," he said.
Commenting on the Western Pacific Naval Symposium held in conjunction with the MMEx and International Fleet Review, Fang explained it would be a good platform for the countries to exchange information, enhance understanding and increase cooperation in tackling non-traditional security threats.
As the need for joint cooperation on maritime issues grows in importance, he hoped the symposium would pave the way for better collaboration among countries in the region.
According to a press statement issued by the Ministry of Defence (MinDef), Brunei's involvement in the MMEx, Intermational Fleet Review and naval symposium aims to promote defence diplomacy with other participating navies.
Promoting good defence diplomacy is important to enhance understanding, mutual trust and friendship, it added.
The events in China will also provide an opportunity for the deployed personnel to gain skills and experience whilst learning about the local culture.