China will take part in a regular US-led naval exercise starting next month, a top US commander said Friday, despite tensions over Beijing’s territorial claims in the South China Sea.

The United States will host multinational naval drills called the Rim of the Pacific Exercise (RIMPAC) — billed as the world’s largest — off Hawaii in June and July.

Although the Chinese navy has previously joined the exercises, held every two years, the latest drill comes as the country more aggressively asserts its maritime claims in Asia, prompting the US to say in March that it was “reassessing” Beijing’s participation.

But Vice Admiral Joseph Aucoin, commander of the US Seventh Fleet, told journalists in Shanghai on Friday: “The PLAN (People’s Liberation Army Navy) will participate in an exercise, the largest exercise that we do, in a couple of months.”

He was speaking after the arrival of his flagship the USS Blue Ridge in the commercial hub, just days after China denied a port call for a US aircraft carrier in its special administrative region of Hong Kong.

US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said in April that China was still invited to the massive exercises.

“It was really good that we were able to have the PLAN participate in the last Rim of the Pacific, and they’re participating also this summer,” Aucoin said.

“It’s a way to better understand one another, to work together closer, so that we can help one another, especially with things like humanitarian assistance, disaster relief.”

China has just announced its own naval combat drills in the South China Sea with three vessels leaving port on Wednesday to join the exercises, according to state media.

It has also built up artificial islands on outcrops in the area.

The United States has sent ships and planes into the strategically vital waters in an attempt to counter what it has described as a threat to freedom of navigation.

Aucoin denied that the US presence in the region was raising tensions, saying the goal was to allow access to sea lanes in international waters, and urging China to cooperate to maintain peace and security.

“We’re sailing and flying and operating in international waters,” he said. “We do this to challenge excessive maritime claims, so it doesn’t impede commerce.”

1 COMMENT

  1. FORGIVE MY BLUNTNESS, BUT AN INVITATION TO CHINA TO JOIN RIMPAC, IS A SIGN OF COMPLICITNESS, AND ABOVE ALL WEAKNESS! YES CHINA; CONTINUE DOING WHAT YOU LIKE IN THE S. CHINA SEA!!!! AS A REWARD WE- AMERICA AND ITS TOP COMMANDERS WILL WELCOME WITH OPEN ARMS YOUR NAVY, SO THAT YOU MAY LEARN OUR TECHNIQUES AND PROTOCOLS, SO THAT WHEN YOU ARE READY TO STRIKE AT US AND (YOUR NOT THERE YET, BUT WILL BE VERRRRRY SOOON) OUR ALLIES YOU WILL KNOW EXACTLY WHAT, WHEN, HOW AND WHERE TO DO IT!

    JUST DOES NOT MAKE ANY SENSE! MY GOD WHAT KIND OF STATEMENT WAS THIS? “It’s a way to better understand one another, to work together closer, so that we can help one another, especially with things like humanitarian assistance, disaster relief.” YEA SURE IT WILL HELP WITH OUR OWN HUMANITARIAN DISASTER RELIEF AFTER THEY SHOVE UP OUR ARSES THOSE DF-21s AND THEIR UPGRADED VARIANTS!

    WE DO NOT NEED TO KNOW EACH OTHER BETTER, ITS OBVIOUS WHAT CHINAS COMMUNIST GOVERNMENT INTENTIONS ARE! WHY DO YOU KEEP ACTING LIKE YOU DO NOT KNOW WHAT AND HOW THEY INTEND TO MONOPOLIZE S. CHINA SEA AND ABOVE ALL THE LENGTH THEY ARE WILLING TO GO TO GET WHAT THEY WANT…….

    I AM NOT A HISTORIAN BUT ALLOW ME TO REMIND YOU AND THOSE WHOM SUPPORT THIS DISRESPECTFUL AND THOUGHTLESS INVITATION.

    I REMEMBER SOME ONE BY THE NAME OF A. HITLER, WHO STATED THAT ALL HE WANTED WAS LIVING SPACE FOR HIS PEOPLE AND THAT HE WOULD NOT SEEK ANY FURTHER DEMANDS…. THE WORLD DID NOT INTERVENE PLACATED, ACTED AS IF, AND HOPE THAT THE BIG BAD WOLF WOULD GO BACK TO HIS CAVE AND BE CONTENT!

    IF I REMEMBER CORRECTLY I THINK IT WAZ WWII. I GUESS WE CAN LOOK FORWARD TO WWIII!!!!!! IM AM DISAPPOINTED WITH OUR SEC OF DEF AND THE VICE ADMIRAL!

    I TOUGHT WE HAD BIGGER BAXXX THA AN INVITATION!

Comments are closed.