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UPDATED: June 2, 2015 NO. 28 JULY 10, 2014
Taking Part at Sea
China's first involvement in RIMPAC presents a positive message of Sino-U.S. military cooperation
By Ding Ying

More trust needed

China and the United States are the biggest developing country and the largest developed country, respectively, and their relationship is significant to world peace and stability. Therefore, developing bilateral military relations not only concerns these two major powers, but also benefits other countries in the world. Mutual trust cannot be established through a single joint drill. Both China and the United States should make more efforts and show more sincerity.

"The Chinese Navy accepted the U.S. invitation in accordance with the principle of building a new-type relationship between major powers based on non-conflict, non-confrontation, mutual respect and win-win cooperation. This decision will play an active role in promoting bilateral ties," said Zhang. Besides, he added, the amelioration of bilateral military relations will prevent other countries' attempts to create discord between the two major powers.

Liu Xuecheng, a researcher with the China Institute of International Relations, pointed out that China's new leadership has expressed the goodwill of building a new-type relationship with the United States, so as to realize win-win cooperation in Asia and beyond. Liu said that in spite of differences and disputes between the two sides, China actively seeks communication and dialogue with Washington through current bilateral mechanisms. Now China's participation in RIMPAC also demonstrates China's active and open attitude toward promoting positive relations with the United States, said Liu.

Although China and the United States have both displayed forthrightness throughout the drill, it cannot be considered as a big breakthrough for their military relationship, said Li Jie, who is also a researcher with the PLA Naval Military Studies Research Institute. "We would prefer to see Washington completely abandon the Cold War mentality and end its old pattern of stick-waving deterrence," said Li.

Li admitted that differences and disputes remain between the two major powers. He suggested establishing a mechanism and a related coordination scheme to effectively manage and control crises. The United States' core strategy is to restrain the development of China's national comprehensive and economic strength, so as to maintain its advantage over China in various aspects, said Li. However, Washington does not want serious conflict to break out between them either.

"The United States has realized through decades of practice at sea that military alliances along with traditional allies can reach only part of its strategic goal in the Pacific region, and it will be difficult to deal with affairs in the Pacific Rim without China's active involvement," said Li. He added that significant events in the region, like the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula, safe passage at sea, anti-terrorism, anti-piracy and humanitarian rescue missions will be fruitless without China's participation. He noted the U.S. side will sustain its "contact-plus-containment" Cold War strategy, and cautioned China to stay calm.

Liu also identified a recent trace of Cold War mentality in the Obama administration. The U.S. side has criticized China on the Diaoyu Islands issue, and propagandized China's military threat and military opaqueness. To implement its "pivot-to-Asia" policy, the United States raised military assistance by 30 percent and military training assistance by 40 percent to its allies in the Asia-Pacific region. It has scheduled 130 joint military drills in the region in 2014. By 2020, it will deploy 60 percent of its naval forces to the Asia-Pacific.

"The Asia of the 21st century is not the one of the 19th century. Asian countries are now masters of their own destiny," said Liu, adding that an emerging Asia will be hard to stop.

"A U.S. leader with a long-term perspective should discard the fantasy of maintaining hegemony in Asia, and should instead become a partner, actively get involved in the cooperative process, and jointly build a peaceful and prosperous Asia with Asian countries, including China," he said.

Email us at: dingying@bjreview.com


RIMPAC, the Rim of the Pacific Exercise, is the world's largest international maritime military drill. The drill, which is hosted and administered by the U.S. Navy's Pacific Fleet, is held biennially during June and July of even-numbered years in Hawaii.

The first RIMPAC was held in 1971 with participants from Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Now, the United States usually invites military forces from the Pacific Rim and beyond to participate. The U.S. Navy claims the exercise is a unique training opportunity that helps participants foster and sustain the cooperative relationships that are critical to ensuring the safety of sea lanes and security on the world's oceans.

RIMPAC 2014 is the 24th exercise in the series and takes place from June 26 to August 1. This year saw 23 participating countries. The drill involves 55 vessels, more than 200 aircraft and some 25,000 personnel.

This year's RIMPAC is the Chinese Navy's first involvement in the drill. The Chinese fleet is composed of a missile destroyer Haikou, a missile frigate Yueyang, a supply ship Qiandaohu, a hospital ship Peace Ark and two ship-borne helicopters, as well as a commando unit, a diving squad and a medical team along with about 1,100 soldiers and officers.

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