MANILA — Amid ongoing maritime disputes, China will be joining the world’s largest naval exercises hosted by the United States in waters near Hawaii.
A Chinese naval squadron was reported to have left the Chinese port last week to join in the Rim of the Pacific exercises, the first time in China’s history.
China has sent troops to serve as military observes in 1998 but it has never dispatched ships to join the actual exercises.
Despite the ongoing “mutual distrust” among the two countries, China’s move is seen to ease the tensions in China’s maritime disputes against neighboring countries including the Philippines.
“It’s also a new development in exploring ways of strengthening friendly relations with countries of the South Pacific through public diplomacy,” Deputy Chief of Staff Hong Xumeng was quoted as saying in a Philippine Star report.
The same statement by Hong also confirmed that the squadron carries 1,100 officers and sailors, including a commando unit and diving team, along with two helicopters.
The squadron, which departed last Monday, includes a destroyer Haikou, missile frigate Yueyang, the oiler Yueyang, and hospital ship Peace Ark.
The exercises, which is held every other year and is dubbed as the world’s largest maritime exercise, will start on June 26 to August 1 and will be participated in by 23 countries.
With reports from Philippine Star