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It is rare to see soldiers from China, Australia, New Zealand and the United States all looking at the same data-filled whiteboard, pitching ideas for the optimal rescue solutions for distressed planes.
At the Naval Command College in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, 28 naval and air force personnel from the four nations learned to cooperate better during the joint tabletop exercise on humanitarian aid and disaster relief.
The three-day exercise, dubbed Cooperation Spirit 2017, concluded on Friday. It involved scenarios for rescuing distressed ships and planes in the eastern Indian Ocean in accordance with international law and standards.
"The world is full of challenges, yet no nation can tackle these challenges alone," said Rear Admiral Han Xiaohu, president of the naval college. "This exercise is important for enhancing maritime mutual trust and harmony, and further improves efficiency and coordination in joint operations."
China and Australia held the first Cooperation Spirit exercise in 2011. It was later expanded to include New Zealand and the United States.
The exercise uses actual data, ranging from water temperature to wind patterns, to simulate the most realistic situation possible, said Senior Colonel Chen Min, head of the scenario director team.
It aims to improve efficiency in command, coordination, logistics and other key disaster relief protocols, he added.
Lieutenant Commander Brett Fotheringham of the New Zealand navy said the exercise is instructive and "encourages us to work together and learn more about each other"s capability".
"The Chinese navy has greatly developed in the past few decades," he said. "It also has greater presence and opportunity to be involved in humanitarian aid and rescue. New Zealand welcomes China"s involvement in such activities."
Lieutenant Commander Christopher Georgi of the US Marine Attache in China, said rescues and disaster relief are a global challenge and the number of emergencies will likely increase in the future.
"But the more we communicate, the better we can tackle these crises," he said, adding that the US military appreciates this opportunity to learn from other nations and improve mutual understanding and coordination.
Wing Commander Mark Holland of the Royal Australian Air Force, said Australia and China have extensive and positive cooperation in joint rescue operations.
"Although we have some differences in culture and ways of approaching a problem, when we work together, and communicate effectively, we are able to come up with the best solution for the missing people," he said.
During the search for Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 that went missing off the western coast of Australia in 2014, China provided a transport aircraft to help the Australian search team. "It was a very valuable resource," he said.