China is sending out multiple signals in its first ever participation in the US-led Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) naval exercises over the summer, reports Hong Kong newspaper Ta Kung Pao.
The US-led RIMPAC is the largest international maritime exercise in the world and has been held biennially since 1971. China has sent officials to observe the exercises since 1998, but this marks the first time the PLA is an official participant.
The Chinese fleet will be the largest after that of the US in this year’s drills, which will feature a total of 23 countries including Australia, Canada, France, India, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea and Britain. The Chinese fleet will not engage in any drills with the Japanese fleet, though Katsutoshi Kawano, chief of staff of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force, welcomed China’s participation.
At the sendoff at Sanya in southern China’s Hainan province, Xu Hongmeng, a deputy commander of the PLA Navy, said the mission was an important part of the efforts to build a new model of relations between China and the US, as well as their militaries.
After the drills conclude in August, Haikou, Yueyang and Qiandaohu will sail to San Diego in the US for visits, while Peace Ark will sail to Tonga, Fiji, Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea for a medical service mission.
Chinese military scholar Song Zhongping said the location of RIMPAC 2014 is foreign to China and will be a great opportunity to test the abilities of the country’s warships and naval officers. Further, Song added that the drills will allow the PLA Navy to learn from the training methods of the US and other leading navies around the world to improve its own capabilities.
Full article: PLA sends multiple signals in first RIMPAC naval exercise (Want China Times)