US Navy de­stroyer drops an­chor in Qingdao

China Daily (USA) - - FRONT PAGE - By CHEN WEI­HUA in Washington chen­wei­hua@chi­nadai­lyusa.com

De­spite the ten­sions in the South China Sea, mil­i­tary-to-mil­i­tary ex­change be­tween China and the United States sails on un­abated.

The USS Ben­fold, an Ar­leigh Burke-class guided-mis­sile de­stroyer, ar­rived Mon­day in Qingdao, Shan­dong prov­ince, for a five-day visit, ac­cord­ing to China’s Min­istry of Na­tional De­fense and the US Navy.

A US Navy state­ment said Ben­fold’s visit ad­vances mar­itime co­op­er­a­tion and en­cour­ages a pos­i­tive naval re­la­tion­ship with the Peo­ple’s Lib­er­a­tion Army Navy North Sea Fleet.

The North Sea Fleet, head­quar­tered in Qingdao, held a wel­com­ing cer­e­mony on Mon­day for the Ben­fold, with a to­tal of 285 crew mem­bers, ac­cord­ing to China’s de­fense min­istry.

US Pa­cific Fleet Com­man­der Ad­mi­ral Scott Swift was also

Sailors are sailors at the end of the day, be it in the east or in the west; we all face the same chal­lenges at sea.” Justin Harts Ben­fold com­mand­ing of­fi­cer

sched­uled to ar­rive Mon­day to join Ben­fold for the visit.

“Sailors are sailors at the end of the day, be it in the east or in the west; we all face the same chal­lenges at sea,” Ben­fold com­mand­ing of­fi­cer Justin Harts said in a state­ment.

“These sim­i­lar­i­ties unite us. I am sure that by the end of the week we will see that Amer­i­can sailors and Chi­nese sailors are as close as any other sailors out on the high seas. The port visit is a tremen­dous op­por­tu­nity to build re­la­tion­ships be­tween sailors based on shared in­ter­ests and per­spec­tives,” Harts said.

In Qingdao, crew of the Ben­fold, for­ward de­ployed to Yoko­suka, Ja­pan, will host a re­cep­tion and ship vis­its, as well as at­tend re­cep­tions and vis­its hosted by the PLA Navy. The sched­uled events in­clude a sports day fea­tur­ing soccer, bas­ket­ball and tug-of-war con­tests and a con­cert by the US 7th Fleet Band.

Ben­fold crew will also ex­plore the sea­side city of Qingdao, in­clud­ing tour­ing the Qing­daoThe pro­duc­tion Mu­seum and cen­ter Ts­ing­tao­for an in­no­va­tiveBeer Mu­seum.bus that strad­dles The high­way Ben­fold lanesvisit comesto al­low just cars days to after pass be­neath—a PLA Navya sort of task­force mov­ing left tun­nelPearl Har­bor— ap­pear­son Fri­day de­serted after with com­plet­ingno sign theof con­struc­tion, Rim of the Pa­cific rais­ing (RIMPAC ques­tions 2016) about ex­er­cises,the sched­uledthe world’s launch largestin 2017. mul­ti­lat­eral naval war game, whichIn De­cem­ber,is held in and Huay­ing around Group, waters of head­quar­teredthe Hawai­ian Is­landsin Beijing, and signed South­erna con­tract Cal­i­for­nia. with the lo­cal The au­thor­i­tiesPLA Navy task­for­cein Zhoukou, par­tic­i­pat­ing He­nan prov­ince,in the 53-dayto pro­duce RIMPAC the Tran­sit2016 in­clud­edEl­e­vated Bus guid­ed­mis­silein a man­u­fac­tur­ing de­stroyer and Xi’an, re­search guided-mis­sile cen­ter cov­er­ing frigate 0.67 Heng­shui,square kilo­me­ters.sup­ply ship Gaoy­ouhu, sub­ma­rine The bus res­cue looks ship like Chang­daoa gi­ant dou­ble-deckerand hos­pi­tal ship­but is Peace hol­low Ark,on the with grounda to­tal of level. 1,200 Pas­sen­gers per­son­nel.

“Our par­tic­i­pa­tion in the RIMPAC 2016 ex­er­cise is a can trip sit for on friend­ship,the top floor co­op­er­a­tionwhile cars pass and be­low. ex­hi­bi­tion, not only show­cas­ingHow­ever, ac­cordingour strength,to a Beijing but also Youth con­vey­ing Daily our re­port sin­cereon Mon­day, good­will the for site seekingis now peace,”full of thick Wang weeds, She­qiang, and com­mand­ing­some nearby farm­er­sof­fi­cer of feed the their PLA sheep Navy in task­force,the area. was quoted as say­ing in a A press lo­cal re­lease farmer posted sur­namedby the Yuan Min­istry told of re­porter­sNa­tional De­fensethat a ground­breakingon Mon­day. cer­e­mony was “The held Chi­ne­se­last month. Navy is will­ing to “They co­op­er­ate built witha plat­form.the navies Peo­ple of all who peace-lov­ingstood on coun­tries,the plat­form so wereas to jointly dressed safe­guardup. It seemed world like pea­ceit was and a re­gion­al­big day, but sta­bil­ity,”there hashe said. been no ac­tiv­ity since,” said RIMPACYuan. 2016 was joined by Du 26 Guangx­ian,na­tions, with a more lo­cal thanof­fi­cial, 40 ships said andthe project sub­marines,has been 200 de­layed.air­craft and 25,000 per­son­nel, more “The coun­tries en­vi­ron­men­ta­land per­son­ne­limpact as­sess­ment­than in any of pre­vi­ous­the project year. has not It was been the ap­proved­sec­ond time yet, Chi­naand par­tic­i­pated in RIMPAC. The first time was in 2015.

Vice Ad­mi­ral Nora Tyson, com­man­der of the US 3rd Fleet, who served as the RIMPAC 2016 com­bined task­force com­man­der, called the drills “an un­qual­i­fied suc­cess.”

“The col­lab­o­ra­tion and co­he­sive­ness be­tween par­tic­i­pants proved that we can op­er­ate ef­fec­tively with our part­ner na­tions and that we will be ready in the Pa­cific if or when we’re called upon,” she said.

Three weeks ago, US Chief of Naval Op­er­a­tions John Richard­son vis­ited Qingdao and Beijing to meet his coun­ter­part many doc­u­mentsWu Shengli, are com­man­der still wait­ing to of be the signed,”PLA Navy,he wasto quoted dis­cuss a as wide say­ing range by of Bei­jingis­sues, Youth in­clud­ing Daily. mil­i­tary-to-mil­i­tary co­op­er­a­tionHuay­ing Group is ex­pected toand ten­sions in pro­ducethe South 1,000 China buses Sea. an­nu­ally,

Richard­son’s first visit to China came just days after a ac­cord­ingJuly 12 rul­ingto the by a con­tract,Hague­based which in­cluded ar­bi­tra­tio­nan in­vest­ment­tri­bunal overof 10 bil­liona case yuan brought($1.5 bil­lion).by the Philip­pinesAsked why on is­sues­the ground­break­ingre­gard­ing ter­ri­to­rial cer­e­mony dis­putes was with held China be­fore in full the ap­provalSouth Chi­na­had beenSea. China, re­ceived, which Du re­ject­ed­said it the was ar­bi­tra­tion to push the in de­vel­op­ment­the first place, of has the de­nounced­pro­ject. the tri­bunal and the “We rul­ing. heard con­cerns about the Port project calls have be­fore. been Somea nor­mal doubted par­tits tech­nol­o­gyof the bi­lat­eral and mil­i­tary-to-mil­i­taryfea­si­bil­ity, but we even­tu­al­lyex­change. In de­cid­edMay, to the ini­ti­ateUSS Bluethe pro­jec­tRidge, the and com­mandthen eval­u­ate whether­ship of the 7thit is Fleet, a good vis­ited project Shang­hai.or not,” he Last said. Novem­ber,The project PLAis ex­pect­edNavy Es­cortto be Task­for­ceput into op­er­a­tion152, con­sistin­gin one yearof three­with an ex­pected out­put val­ue­and more than 800 of­fi­cers 5 bil­lion and yuan sailors,to 10 bil­lion ar­rived yuan. at US Naval Sta­tion May­port in Jack­sonville, Florida, for the PLA Navy’s first port call to the US East Coast.

CFP

Chief of Naval Op­er­a­tions Ad­mi­ral John Richard­son vis­its the Chi­nese Peo­ple’s Lib­er­a­tion Army (Navy) Sub­ma­rine Academy in Qingdao on July 20, where he met with his coun­ter­part to dis­cuss how to im­prove un­der­stand­ing.

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