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US, Chinese armies drill

Updated: 2013-11-15 13:16
By Chen Jia, Yu Wei and Hu Haiyan in Hawaii ( China Daily USA)

 US, Chinese armies drill

Chinese soldiers take part in search and rescue drills in cooperation with US forces and rescue professionals during joint training exercises on the Hawaiin island of Oahu on Thursday. Yu Wei / China Daily

Imagine an earthquake triggered by hurricane, which crash ashore while its wind shoves inland water wall up to 20 feet or higher. Buried in the earthquake debris, six people are crying for help to get out of the way.

At Thursday's Bellows Air Force Base of Oahu Island, an exciting field training for joint HA/DR exercise was demonstrating before international media lens, for the first time, how Chinese and American soldiers could cooperate with each other to save people from such a natural disaster.

"It is not difficult for me to communicate with our US partners as I have learned English for years and used to participate in the peacekeeping mission," Yin Chunhong, a colonel from the Kunming General Hospital of Chengdu Military Region, told China Daily.

She is among the 48 Chinese officers and soldiers who were chosen to participate in the drill from different departments. Some of them used to be on the peacekeeping mission in Lebanon.

"Through the face to face communication and field practice drill, both of us enhance mutual trust and have better understanding about the different disaster relief approaches," said Liu Yongwei, a Chinese sergeant.

It has been the ninth exchanges between China and the US under the mechanism of humanitarian assistance and disaster relief exchange. Last year, it was in Chengdu Military Area where a tabletop exercise was conducted.

Gary Hara, deputy commander of Army National Guard at US Army Pacific, said the drill is a "historic moment" and he is very happy that US army has the opportunity to communicate with Chinese officers and soldiers.

"Right now, the focus remains on the humanitarian assistance and disaster response, we would like to keep this type of environment and make it more complex in the future and go from there," said Hara. "American soldiers learned a lot from Chinese side."

"Initially, the PLA (People's Liberation Army) will do one event, the US will do another one. But we work together so well and now you can see, we are working side by side on the same event," he said. "That's the real progress we made here."

"This time the two armies trained together and learned from each other. They have got better understanding of each other and relationship between the two sides has been enhanced," Zhao Kaizeng, deputy political commissar of the Chengdu Military Area Command, said on Thursday.

"I see the officers and soldiers from both sides shown the public their professionalism and excellent skills. I'm very proud of that."

Earlier this year, Chinese President Xi Jinping said on the summit with Obama in Sunnyvale, California, that the two sides should improve and strengthen the military-to-military relationship and promote the building of a new model of military relationship as well.

As the latest implement of the top leaders' consensus, Thursday's drill marked a milestone that Chinese military for the first time to participate in such a joint drill in US soil.

Held on Nov 12-14 in Hawaii, the joint exercise had included showcase of disaster relief equipment, professional skills demonstration and field exercise.

A follow-up academic exchange between the army officers of two sides will continue in Washington DC and New York.

The United States had 47 people participated in the joint drill, who are from the US Army Pacific, the Hawaii Army National Guard, the Army Corps of Engineers and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The exchange is an annual exercise that is part of a security cooperation agreement between two sides established in 1997.

"This kind of cooperation on a non-sensitive issue could possibly help the USA and China establish a stronger friendship," Denny Roy, a senior fellow of the East-West Center, told China Daily.

It could make it easier for the two countries to develop habits of cooperation and perhaps even solve difficult problems in the future, he said.

"In any case the joint exercise has value beyond merely sharing technical expertise," he added.

Contact the writers at chenjia@chinadailyusa.com

(China Daily USA 11/15/2013 page1)

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