In an apparent sign of easing tensions over maritime disputes between China and members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, the two held a joint maritime rescue drill in the South China Sea, Chinese state-run media said.

The exercise, which took place Tuesday in the waters off the southern coast of China’s Guangdong Province, was “the largest of its kind for China and ASEAN members,” the official Xinhua News Agency said. It involved about 1,000 participants aboard 20 ships and three helicopters from China, Thailand, Cambodia, Myanmar and Laos — as well as the Philippines and Brunei, rival claimants in the South China Sea.

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