China / Politics

Sea exercise shows China wants closer US ties, ministry says

By ZHAO SHENGNAN ( Updated: 2014-06-26 23:21

A spokesman for the Ministry of National Defense highlighted China's willingness to improve Sino-US military ties on Thursday, the day the world's largest US-organized naval drill was held with China's participation for the first time.

Sharing many interests with the US, China believes the countries should work together to strengthen communication and handle differences, Yang Yujun told a monthly press conference.

Yang made the remarks in connection with China's first-time participation in the Rim of the Pacific multinational naval exercise near Hawaii. The exercise comes in the wake of a series of turbulent moments in bilateral relations.

In May, the US Justice Department charged five Chinese military officers with hacking into US companies to steal trade secrets. Earlier this month, US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel accused China of destabilizing regional sea territories.

Yang reiterated China's policy of peaceful development and national defense, saying China sent several advanced vessels to help forge a new era in the Sino-US military relationship.

The number of Chinese vessels participating in the exercises is second only to the US.

The Chinese flotilla is composed of the missile destroyer Haikou, the missile frigate Yueyang, the supply ship Qiandaohu, the hospital ship Peace Ark and two ship-borne helicopters. There is also a commando unit, a diving squad and a medical team.

The US reached out to China and invited it to join 21 other nations during former US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta's visit to China in September 2012.

During drills scheduled for July, forces from China, the US, France, Mexico and Brunei will jointly conduct weapons firing, resupply, damage control, anti-piracy and disaster-relief operations as well as coordinated interceptions and landings and joint assaults by warships and ship-borne helicopters.

Yang said the Chinese navy's offshore activities, including providing escorts through pirate-infested Somali waters and searching for the missing jetliner MH370, have been in line with international law and practice.

"The navy's near-shore defensive policy has never changed," he said.


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