China says it will participate in RIMPAC this summer
Amid ongoing spats between China and the United States in the South China Sea, Beijing confirmed Thursday it will participate in this summer’s big Rim of the Pacific exercise off Hawaii from June 27 to Aug. 2.
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Amid ongoing spats
between China and the United States in the
South China Sea, Beijing confirmed Thursday it
will participate in this
summer’s big Rim of the Pacific exercise off Hawaii from June 27 to Aug. 2.
“The Chinese side has received the invitation from the U.S. side,” Senior Col. Wu Qian, a spokesman for China’s Ministry of
National Defense, said at a press conference. “Lately we sent representatives to participate in the (midplanning conference) of the RIMPAC and discussed details with the U.S. side for the arrangement of
It was not clear what forces China will send.
RIMPAC is held every other year. In 2016 China sent the missile destroyer Xi’an, missile frigate Hengshui, supply ship Gaoyouhu, submarine rescue vessel Changdao and hospital ship Peace Ark.
The last RIMPAC saw participation by 26 nations, 25,000 personnel,
45 ships, five submarines and more than 200 aircraft.
The U.S. Navy’s Third Fleet, which plans RIMPAC, said the initial planning conference was held June 6-9 in San Diego. The
midplanning conference was held Dec. 5-8 at Pearl Harbor. The final planning conference is scheduled for the first week of April, the Navy said.
All nations that participated in 2016 were reinvited in April, according to the Navy.
China typically sends between five and eight
representatives to planning sessions, said Third Fleet spokeswoman Lt. Cmdr. Julie Holland. The Navy won’t know the full participation makeup until after April, she said.
“Nothing’s been finalized until the final planning conference,” Holland
said. “So yes, we have been in discussions with the (People’s Liberation Army Navy) about their participation in RIMPAC, just as we have with Australia, (Canada), New Zealand.”
Wu, China’s defense ministry spokesman, responded to a question about a comment made
by Adm. Harry Harris,
who heads U.S. Pacific Command on Oahu, at a security conference in India earlier this month.
News agency Reuters
reported that Harris said, “I believe the reality is that China is a disruptive transitional force in the Indo-Pacific.”
Harris is known to be
a hard-liner against China’s expansionism in the South China Sea, which the United States worries will upend a free flow of commerce and limit the U.S. military’s dominant role in the region.
“The American admiral described China as disruptive,” Wu said. “But if there is anything China wants to disrupt, it is nothing but the hegemonic thinking and the Cold War mentality that some people cling to so dearly.”
China recently complained that the Pearl Harbor destroyer USS Hopper sailed Jan. 17 near Scarborough Shoal — territory claimed by China, the Philippines and Taiwan — in what the United States calls a freedom of navigation operation.
The shoal is about 120 miles west of Luzon in the Philippines. China Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said Hopper sailed within 12 nautical miles of the shoal “without gaining permission from the Chinese government.”
Despite past South China Sea provocations, the U.S. military two years ago said it saw RIMPAC as a way to interact positively with China — even if it disagreed with its actions elsewhere.
Before the exercise kicked off, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson said China was welcome to attend.
“These (exercises) are the sorts of things that bring us all together in sort of positive, constructive ways,” Richardson said.