China ships de­part for naval drill with US, oth­ers

The Covington News - - THE WIRE -

BEI­JING (AP) — Chi­nese ships steamed Tues­day to­ward wa­ters near Hawaii to par­tic­i­pate for the first time in the world’s largest naval ex­er­cises hosted by Wash­ing­ton — a rare op­por­tu­nity to build trust with the U.S. and re­gional ri­vals in­clud­ing the Philip­pines and Ja­pan.

China’s par­tic­i­pa­tion in the Rim of the Pa­cific ex­er­cises be­gin­ning June 26 will en­able Chi­nese naval of­fi­cers to rub shoul­ders with U.S. coun­ter­parts as well as those from coun­tries with which it has mar­itime dis­putes in the South China Sea and East China Sea.

Wash­ing­ton and Bei­jing have been seek­ing closer mil­i­tary ties fol­low­ing an in­ci­dent last De­cem­ber when a U.S. Navy cruiser, the USS Cow­pens, nearly col­lided with a ship ac­com­pa­ny­ing China’s sole air­craft car­rier in the South China Sea — the most se­ri­ous sea con­fronta­tion be­tween the two na­tions in years.

China’s agree­ing to par­tic­i­pate shows a new ma­tu­rity in its for­eign re­la­tions whereby it won’t al­low in­di­vid­ual dis­agree­ments to up­set over­all ties, said Ni Lex­iong, a mil­i­tary ex­pert at Shang­hai’s Univer­sity of Po­lit­i­cal Sci­ence and Law.

“The rule of the game now is that we can ar­gue, we can quar­rel, but at the same time, we can work to­gether. And ev­ery­body has shown re­spect for that rule,” Ni said.

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