Chinese naval vessels, including the missile destroyer Haikou, the missile frigate Yueyang, the supplier ship Qiandaohu and the hospital ship Ark Peace, set sail from Sanya and Zhoushan ports to the United States around the noon on Monday to participate in the Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) multinational naval exercises. It is the first time that the Chinese navy participate in the joint maritime exercises organized by the US navy. Photo: Ecns.cn
The Chinese navy on Monday confirmed that it will participate for the first time in the Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC), a multinational naval drill hosted by the US this month, sending four ships including a missile destroyer and a frigate.
Navy spokesperson Liang Yang said that Chinese forces will send a missile destroyer, a missile frigate, a supply ship, a hospital ship and two vessel-carried helicopters, a special battle force and a diving force to the drill.
During the five-week drill, which will kick off from June 26, the Chinese navy will take part in cannon firing exercises, maritime security actions, maritime warship exercises, military medicine exchanges, humanitarian aid and disaster reduction, as well as diving drills.
RIMPAC, which started in 1971, is billed as the world's largest international maritime drill and organized by the US every two years. A total of 23 countries and more than 40 ships and submarines are participating this year, involving 1,100 officers and soldiers.
China has never participated in the event, although it did send observers in 1998, according to the Pentagon.
Song Zhongping, a military affairs commentator, told the Global Times that the US invitation to China indicated that Washington hopes to observe and evaluate China's naval capability in this drill.
"China's agreement of participation shows its confidence in its naval capability and increasing transparency in military buildup," Song said, adding that the ships in the Chinese fleet are among the most advanced of their kind.
China's confirmation to take part in the drill comes at a moment when tensions keep growing between the two countries due to Washington's recent accusations over China's military buildup and cyber spying.
Last week China's defense ministry and foreign ministry slammed the Pentagon for a report estimating China's true military spending exceeded $145 billion last year and warning that China was stepping up its military modernization program.
China's participation can enhance better communication between the PLA navy and the US, which can help to avoid any unnecessary disputes and ensure regional security, Song said.
It will also be a good practice for the Chinese navy in long-distance Ocean sailing and anti-reconnaissance training, Song added.