China Says It Will Participate in RIMPAC

By Cole, William | Honolulu Star - Advertiser, January 25, 2018 | Go to article overview

China Says It Will Participate in RIMPAC


Cole, William, Honolulu Star - Advertiser


BRUCE ASATO / 2016 Security personnel greet people boarding the CNS Xi’an while docked at Pearl Harbor.

Amid ongoing spats between China and the United States in the South China Sea, Beijing confirmed today it will participate in this summer’s big Rim of the Pacific exercise off Hawaii June 27 to Aug. 2.

“The Chinese side has received the invitation from the U.S. side,” Senior Col. Wu Qian, a spokesman for China’s Ministry of National Defense, said at a press conference. “Lately we sent representatives to participate in the (mid-planning conference) of the RIMPAC and discussed details with the U.S. side for the arrangement of China’s participation.”

It was not clear what forces China will send.

RIMPAC is held every other year. In 2016, China sent the missile destroyer Xi’an, missile frigate Hengshui, supply ship Gaoyouhu, submarine rescue vessel Changdao and hospital ship Peace Ark and participated in at-sea drills including gunfire, damage control and rescue, anti-piracy, search and rescue and diving and submarine rescue.

The last RIMPAC saw participation by 26 nations, 25,000 personnel, 45 ships, five submarines and more than 200 aircraft. The interoperability drills were held mostly in and around the Hawaiian Islands but also off Southern California.

The U.S. Navy’s Third Fleet in San Diego, which plans RIMPAC, said the initial planning conference was held in San Diego June 6-9. The mid-planning conference was held at Pearl Harbor Dec. 5-8. The final planning conference is scheduled for the first week of April, the Navy said.

All 26 nations that participated in 2016 were re-invited in April, according to the Navy.

China typically sends a delegation of between five and eight representatives to each planning session, which is similar to the number sent by Canada or Australia, said Third Fleet spokeswoman Lt. Cmdr. Julie Holland.

Holland said Third Fleet won’t know the full participation make-up until after April.

“Nothing’s been finalized until the final planning conference,” she said. “So yes, we have been in discussions with the (People’s Liberation Army Navy) about their participation in RIMPAC, just as we have with Australia, (Canada), New Zealand,” Holland said.

Wu, China’s Ministry of National Defense spokesman, responded to a question at the same press conference about a comment made by Adm. …

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