China and the United Kingdom conducted their first simulated joint evacuation exercise over the past two days in Nanjing, the capital of Jiangsu province.
Participants in the Joint Evacuation-2016 tabletop drill were mainly from the British Armed Forces and the People's Liberation Army Navy. During the event at the PLA Naval Command College, they conducted a simulated joint operation to evacuate people out of a third nation that is in a civil war and has been hit by terrorism. They also shared policies, tactics and experience pertaining to evacuation operations.
The operation's scenarios involved the use of a joint naval fleet, multiple aircraft and a joint headquarters.
Rear Admiral Lu Ming, deputy commandant of the PLA college, said that China and the UK have rich experience accumulated over the years in evacuation missions, and the latest exercise will help deepen the practical cooperation in non-combatant military operations.
Senior Captain Li Anmin, dean of the Department of Strategy at the college, said the exercise enables officers from the two militaries to find solutions to possible problems in evacuation tasks, such as incompatibility of a joint command system or difficulties in coordination. "For instance, we have different rules of engagement that will divide us in actual operation when a possible threat appears. We must sit together to discuss and try to find the solutions," he said.
Evacuation operations often involve complicated political, diplomatic and legal issues. It has become increasingly difficult for a single nation to accomplish such a task. Bilateral or multilateral collaboration is a better choice, Li added.
Commodore Steven Dainton, assistant chief of staff of the Royal Navy, said the event improved the two sides' understanding of the similarities and differences of their approaches to evacuation tasks, allowing them to work more closely in the future.
In 2011, when a civil war erupted in Libya, China helped to evacuate 2,100 foreign nationals who came from 12 countries.
Last year, the PLA Navy allowed 279 foreign nationals from 15 countries to use two of its warships to leave war-torn Yemen.
Currently, more than 30,000 Chinese enterprises have overseas branches with millions of Chinese nationals working abroad.