China participates for the first time in U.S. Pacific Fleet maritime exercises

The Rim of the Pacific drills, held in Hawaii, help teach countries to respond to crises like Typhoon Haiyan and the Malaysia Airline disappearance.

Fox News reported that for the first time, China is participating in the world’s largest maritime exercises. Officials believe this will greatly help Beijing and other countries work together during disaster or emergency situations.

“These are multilateral events,” said Admiral Harry Harris. “Real world operations. It helps us if we practice together like this.”

It is the goal of the U.S. to create better transparency and understanding between the participating nations. Japan and the Philippines, U.S. allies, are also participating in the exercises. China is involved in territorial disputes with these countries and others over waters in the South China Sea. These waters are believed to have oil and gas potential.

According to Fox News, there has been ongoing tension between China and the U.S. as well.
China believes the U.S. is making efforts to counter Beijing’s growing military and economy by shifting attention to the Asian and Pacific regions of the world. The U.S. states its moves are in recognition of the growing economic importance of the area.

While China has sent military observers to watch drills in 1998, it has never sent ships before. This year it sent four ships as well as two helicopters, a diving team, a commando unit and 1,100 Chinese officers and sailors.

Harris feels this presence makes a statement that the country realizes it must improve its relationships with other countries despite differences.

“Countries can agree to disagree without being disagreeable,” Harris said.

The U.S. Navy is hosting 22 countries with approximately 25,000 military personnel at the exercises. The U.S. Pacific Fleet holds the drills every two years.


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