RIMPAC drill not window-dressing for China-US ties

Updated: 2014-06-27 13:33


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BEIJING - The Chinese navy's first involvement in the Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) multinational naval exercises can not be undervalued.

A Chinese fleet with about 1,100 soldiers and officers are now in Pearl Harbor participating in exchange events, including press conferences, visits of warships, basketball and football matches and a cross-country race.

Their involvement in the activity between the United States and Pacific Rim nations makes the world's largest multinational maritime military exercise more inclusive.

However, China's participation is not merely symbolic for China-US relations.

The Chinese fleet is composed of a missile destroyer, a missile frigate, a supply ship, a hospital ship and two ship-borne helicopters, as well as a commando unit, a diving squad and a medical team.

During the maritime drills starting on July 9, the Chinese vessels will join in operations testing weapons firing, sea-lifting of supplies, damage control, anti-piracy and disaster-relief abilities, coordinated interceptions and landings, and joint assaults by warships and ship-borne helicopters.

The scale and active involvement of the Chinese fleet indicate that military-to-military relations between China and the US are building momentum since the summit attended by Chinese President Xi Jinping and his US counterpart Barack Obama last summer.

The exercises will add to efforts to build a new model of relations between the two nations and their militaries.

Military-to-military contact, an area highlighted by the two national leaders in their summit, was long regarded as the weakest link in the China-US relationship.

The drill is an opportunity for the two militaries to consolidate mutual trust, which is vital for boosting the China-US relationship.

Given that the Asia-Pacific is where the interests of China and the United States intertwine the most, the drill also shows that, though the two countries differ on certain issues, they have been making concrete steps toward building trust.

Moreover, China's involvement displays its willingness to deepen friendly cooperation with countries in Southeast Asia.

The drill, which involves a total of 23 nations, will facilitate mutual understanding between China and nations in Southeast Asia through various activities including anti-piracy and disaster-relief operations.

In recent years, the Chinese navy has become an important force in safeguarding world peace and its role in anti-piracy, international humanitarian assistance and maritime search and rescue has been growing.

The exercises once again demonstrate China's initiative in contributing to regional security and will help eliminate misunderstanding and misjudgment in the region.

The drill is a major stride in military-to military ties between China and the United States. There will surely be more.