Drills called sign of healthy ties as PLA fleet heads to Pear­lHar­bor

China Daily (Canada) - - TOP NEWS - By CHEN WEIHUA in­Wash­ing­ton andMOJINGXI in Bei­jing

The Peo­ple’s Lib­er­a­tion Army Navy fleet is sched­uled to sail into Pearl Har­bor on Wed­nes­day to par­tic­i­pate in the Rim of the Pa­cific naval ex­er­cises, known as RIMPAC 2016.

China’s in­volve­ment, the se­cond since 2014, re­flects the sta­ble and healthy devel­op­ment of mil­i­tary ties be­tween China and the United States, despite the grow­ing ten­sions in the South China Sea, ex­perts said.

The Chi­nese fleet con­sists of five ships — the mis­sile de­stroyer Xi’an, the mis­sile frigate Heng­shui, the sup­ply ship Gaoy­ouhu, the hos­pi­tal ship Peace Ark and the sub­ma­rine res­cue ves­sel Chang­dao. Three he­li­copters, a marine squad and a div­ing squad, as well as 1,200 of­fi­cers and sol­diers, also will par­tic­i­pate.

The Chi­nese task force mem­bers left Zhoushan, Zhe­jiang prov­ince, on June 15. They were joined in the western Pa­cific on June 18 by the US guided-mis­sile de­stroy­ers Stock­dale andWil­liam P. Lawrence in a “group sail” to Hawaii.

The group sail gives the ships’ crews a chance to op­er­ate to­gether and con­duct ba­sic train­ing, such as tac­ti­cal ma­neu­ver­ing drills and com­mu­ni­ca­tion sys­tem checks, be­fore the more com­plex RIMPAC ex­er­cises be­gin, ac­cord­ing to the US mil­i­tary news­pa­per Stars and Stripes.

RIMPAC 2016, which has the theme of “Ca­pa­ble, Adap­tive, Part­ners”, will be held from Thurs­day to Aug 4. The PLA Navy will take part in drills in­clud­ing gun­fire, dam­age con­trol and res­cue, anti-piracy, search and res­cue, and div­ing and sub­ma­rine res­cue. Chi­nese of­fi­cers and sol­diers also will par­tic­i­pate in a range of sport­ing events with per­son­nel from the US and other coun­tries.

It is the se­cond timeChina is par­tic­i­pat­ing in the bi­en­nial RIMPAC.

In 2014, it sent a fleet of four ships with about 1,100 per­son­nel. The Chi­nese con­tin­gent this time is said to be the third largest among the 26 par­tic­i­pat­ing coun­tries, trail­ing only the US and Canada.

Jonathan Pol­lack, a se­nior fel­low at the John L. Thorn­ton China Cen­ter of Brook­ings In­sti­tu­tion, said: “It’s good that China is go­ing. This may cause some un­ease for some Amer­i­cans who are very skep­ti­cal about China, but China is as much a stake­holder in the Asia-Pa­cific se­cu­rity en­vi­ron­ment as any­body else.”

Fan Jishe, a US stud­ies re­searcher at the Chi­nese Academy of So­cial Sciences, said the RIMPAC ex­er­cises will help China and the US to de­velop a healthy bi­lat­eral re­la­tion­ship and con­trol their dif­fer­ences in other ar­eas.

Re­mark­able progress has been achieved in the two coun­tries’ mil­i­tary re­la­tion­ship in re­cent years, even though ten­sions are grow­ing in the South China Sea, he said. “It is very nec­es­sary for both sides to con­tinue the pos­i­tive mo­men­tum in mil­i­tary ex­changes,” Fan said.

Con­tact the writer at mo­jingxi@chi­nadaily.com.cn

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