News / Asia

China Makes Debut in RIMPAC Naval Drills

Zhao Xiaogang, drill director of the Chinese fleet participating in the RIMPAC multinational military exercise, joins in a news conference at Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickam in Honolulu, Hawaii June 30, 2014.
Zhao Xiaogang, drill director of the Chinese fleet participating in the RIMPAC multinational military exercise, joins in a news conference at Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickam in Honolulu, Hawaii June 30, 2014.
Sarah WilliamsJim Stevenson

As maritime tensions simmer between Beijing and its neighbors in the East and South China Seas, China for the first time is joining them in naval drills led by the United States. The military maneuvers also provide an exercise in diplomacy and intelligence gathering, analysts say.

The Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) naval exercises, conducted every two years in Hawaii, are meant to strengthen international relationships and ensure maritime safety and security. This year, 22 nations are participating in the drills, which began last weekend and continue through Aug. 1. Thailand’s invitation was retracted following the military coup there in May.

Dean Cheng, senior research fellow for Chinese political and security affairs at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank in Washington, said it's important to understand that  RIMPAC is an exercise in warfare techniques.

China’s replenishment ship, Qiandaohu, left, sails past its hospital ship, Peace Ark, as it docks in Honolulu, Hawaii.China’s replenishment ship, Qiandaohu, left, sails past its hospital ship, Peace Ark, as it docks in Honolulu, Hawaii.
x
China’s replenishment ship, Qiandaohu, left, sails past its hospital ship, Peace Ark, as it docks in Honolulu, Hawaii.
China’s replenishment ship, Qiandaohu, left, sails past its hospital ship, Peace Ark, as it docks in Honolulu, Hawaii.

"You would be seeing the participants, most of whom are U.S. allies, engaging in a variety of activities that you would see in actual wartime," he said. "These are not the sorts of things you necessarily want to show countries that you think may become adversaries."

Strained relations

China is at odds with several of the RIMPAC participants.

Japan has clashed with it over disputed territory in the East China Sea. And the Chinese have been angered by Japanese officials’ visits to the Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo, which honors Japan’s war dead – including convicted war criminals.

The Philippines has its own territorial dispute with China.

The United States invited China to take part in the naval exercises to encourage a stable, “sustained and substantive” military relationship with Beijing, a State Department official, Dan Russel, said in recent congressional testimony on the future of the two countries’ relations.  

The Chinese may have another motive, said Sulmaan Khan, assistant professor of Chinese foreign relations at Tufts University’s Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.

“For China at least, it’s not clear that this is going to build as much trust as it would on the American side,” Khan said. “Whereas [Washington] D.C. might be hoping that this will build trust, show our intentions to build a good relationship, for the Chinese participants there’s going to be the question of ‘yes, but what are the Americans leaving out? What are we not seeing in these exercises?’ It’s as much a fact-finding mission for them as much as anything else.”

Source for ‘intelligence gathering’

Cheng characterized China’s participation in this year’s RIMPAC as "intelligence gathering."

"One of the things we didn’t do during the Cold War was to invite the Soviets, for example, to participate in the [NATO] Reforger exercises or the Ocean Safari exercises," he said.

Reforger exercises – short for "return of forces to Germany" – were conducted annually from 1969 to 1993 “to test U.S. ability to move conventional military forces rapidly from the continental United States to Central Europe,” according to the Global Security website.

NATO ran Ocean Safari maritime exercises in the North Atlantic during the 1970s and 1980s.

RIMPAC participants engage in drills that are unique outside of combat, according to Cheng.

"Among the other things that you do at this particular exercise is you actually fire live weapons at targets," he said. "This is the sort of thing that a submarine commander might do once or twice in his entire career, barring war time, of course."

The exercises also give countries an opportunity for improving relations and burnishing their image.

One of China’s goals in participating in RIMPAC may be to enhance its stature in the eyes of its own people, Khan said.

"Chinese leaders have been discussing a new model of great power relations," he said, "and being invited to a U.S.-convened set of naval exercises would seem to fit that bill.”


Jim Stevenson

For over 35 years, Jim Stevenson has been sharing stories with the world on the radio and internet. From both the field and the studio, Jim enjoys telling about specific events and uncovering the interesting periphery every story possesses. His broadcast career has been balanced between music, news, and sports, always blending the serious with the lighter side.

You May Like

Multimedia Obama, Modi Break Nuclear Deal Deadlock

Impasse over liability issues had been stalling bilateral civilian nuclear cooperation; deal reached at start of US president's three-day visit to India More

WHO's Late Efforts in Tackling Ebola Highlight Need for Reform

Health experts debate measures to reform agency’s response to global public health emergencies in special one-day session on deadly outbreak More

One Tumultuous Year in Power for CAR's President

As sectarian violence raged across Central African Republic, interim President Catherine Samba-Panza has Herculean task: to end civil war and put country back on right track More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: William Li from: Canada
July 06, 2014 12:56 PM
Sounds like America finally agreed to share the world with China. This is a new page of world history! Go China Go!


by: shooi dan tom from: usa
July 05, 2014 6:18 PM
It is the US that doesn t need any ships to protect itself. The
US is being invaded from the south every day. In 15 years or
so the US will be run by the Mexican army.


by: Frank from: O.C. USA
July 04, 2014 11:17 PM
What is going on? Do USA and its allies teach Chinese skills how to fight with enemy? Isn't China a hypothetical enemy of USA and its allies? It is stupid to allow an enemy to steal expertise and experiences accumulated in the alliance over a long time. China is already the biggest enemy of the world's peace and justice. Teach Chinese at first manners and ethics!

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youthi
X
Julie Taboh
January 23, 2015 11:08 PM
Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.
Video

Video US Marching Bands Grow Into a Show of Their Own

The 2014 Super Bowl halftime show was the most-watched in history - attracting an estimated 115 million viewers. That event featured pop star Bruno Mars. But the halftime show tradition started with marching bands, which still dominate the entertainment at U.S. high school and college American football games. But as Enming Liu reports in this story narrated by Adrianna Zhang, marching bands have grown into a show of their own.
Video

Video Secular, Religious Kurds Face Off in Southeast Turkey

Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast has been rocked by violence between religious and secular Kurds. Dorian Jones reports on the reasons behind the stand-off from the region's main city of Diyarbakir, which suffered the bloodiest fighting.
Video

Video Kenya: Misuse of Antibiotics Leading to Resistance by Immune System

In Kenya, the rise of drug resistant bacteria could reverse the gains made by medical science over diseases that were once treatable. Kenyans could be at risk of fatalities as a result if the power in antibiotics is not preserved. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story from Nairobi.
Video

Video Solar-Powered Plane Getting Ready to Circumnavigate Globe

Pilots of the solar plane that already set records flying without a drop of fuel are close to making their first attempt to fly the craft around the globe. They plan to do it in 25 flying days over a five month period. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video How Experts Decide Ethiopia Has the Best Coffee

Ethiopia’s coffee has been ranked as the best in the world by an international group of coffee connoisseurs. Not surprisingly, coffee is a top export for the country. But at home it is a source of pride. Marthe van der Wolf in Addis Ababa decided to find out what makes the bean and brew so special and how experts make their determinations.
Video

Video Yazidi Refugees at Center of Political Fight Between Turkey, Kurds

The treatment of thousands of Yazidis refugees who fled to Turkey to escape attacks by Islamic State militants has become the center of a dispute between the Turkish government and the country's pro-Kurdish movement. VOA's Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video World’s Richest 1% Forecast to Own More Than Half of Global Wealth

The combined wealth of the world's richest 1 percent will overtake that of the remaining 99 percent at some point in 2016, according to the anti-poverty charity Oxfam. Campaigners are demanding that policymakers take action to address the widening gap between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid