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 Thailand’s invitation was retracted following the military coup there in May.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

WHO: Anti-Ebola Efforts Should Focus on West Africa

Official says WHO is 'reasonably confident' countries bordering those hardest hit by the Ebola outbreak are not seeing the virus crossing their borders More

South Sudan Crisis Threatens Development

Economic costs and lost development opportunities in South Sudan have erased what little progress the country has made since independence in 2011 More

Ukrainian PM Warns: Russia May Try to Disrupt Sunday Poll

Arseniy Yatsenyuk orders full security mobilization for parliamentary election to prevent ‘terrorist acts’ from being carried out 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.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid