Despite disputes in the South China Sea, the United States and China held a joint military exercise to hone their skills at providing disaster relief. However, military commanders also stated they took the opportunity to show that two world powers can look beyond points of tension and diplomatic uncertainty. One Chinese general added that the exercise serves as a bridge to promote relations between the two militaries. Held since 2005, the U.S.-China Disaster Management Exchange is part of an international effort to build mutual trust and coordination from the ground up. The troops navigate disaster scenarios during the exercise, while sharing academic pursuits.