China ‘ bet­ter pre­pared’ for Pa­cific naval drill

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE - By CHEN WEIHUA in Washington chen­wei­hua@chi­

The Chi­nese Peo­ple’s Lib­er­a­tion Army Navy is far more pre­pared for the Rim of the Pa­cific naval ex­er­cises this year than it was in 2014, the first time that China par­tic­i­pated.

Vice-Ad­mi­ral Nora Tyson, com­man­der of the US Third Fleet and the Com­bined Task Force com­man­der of RIMPAC 2016, said she be­lieves that China’s sec­ond par­tic­i­pa­tion shows bet­ter prepa­ra­tion.

“I think the staff bet­ter un­der­stood the process and un­der­stood what the plan­ning process was, and there­fore was bet­ter pre­pared for it in 2016 than 2014,” she said.

The PLA Navy fleet for RIMPAC 2016 is com­posed 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 are also par­tic­i­pat­ing, with 1,200 of­fi­cers and sol­diers tak­ing part.

The size of the crew is smaller than only those of the United States and Canada among the 26 na­tions par­tic­i­pat­ing in the ex­er­cises.

Wang She­qiang, com­mand­ing of­fi­cer of the Chi­nese fleet Task Force 153, de­scribed RIMPAC 2016 as a pageant for the world’s navies.

“China’s par­tic­i­pa­tion this time will help strengthen the pro­fes­sional ex­change and prac­ti­cal co­op­er­a­tion be­tween the Chi­nese Navy and other navies, help en­hance the friend­ship among the par­tic­i­pat­ing na­tions and help build a new type of mil­i­tary-to-mil­i­tary re­la­tion­ship be­tween China and the United States,” he said.

Dur­ing the ex­er­cises, which be­gan on June 30 and will con­clude on Aug 4, the PLA Navy fleet will par­tic­i­pate in drills in­clud­ing gun­fire, dam­age con­trol and res­cue, anti-piracy, search and res­cue, and div­ing and sub­ma­rine res­cue.

RIMPAC also will en­hance China’s ca­pa­bil­ity to deal with threats in non­tra­di­tional se­cu­rity fields and to en­sure and pro­mote peace and sta­bil­ity in the Asia-Pa­cific re­gion, Wang said.

Vice-Ad­mi­ral Tyson, the first woman to lead a US Navy fleet, said a coun­try is usu­ally in­vited the first time as an ob­server, while the sec­ond time it brings its ships and air­craft.

“Hav­ing par­tic­i­pated as an ob­server and hav­ing par­tic­i­pated by bring­ing ships and air­craft, then they may be con­sid­ered for a lead­er­ship po­si­tion,” she told the open­ing news con­fer­ence.

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