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Thursday, February 25, 2016, 21:39

China to join major US-hosted naval drills

By Agencies

China to join major US-hosted naval drills
This US Navy photo obtained July 15, 2014 shows the San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship USS Anchoage (LPD 23), the littoral combat ship USS Coronado (LCS 4), the joint high speed vessel USNS Millinocket (JHSV 3) and the Military Sealift Command mobile landing platform USNS Montford Point (MLP 1) on July 11, 2014 as they transit in formation off the coast of Southern California as part of Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) Exercise 2014. (AFP PHOTO/US NAVY/Mark C. Schultz)

BEIJING - China on Thursday confirmed it would send warships to join a major US-hosted naval drill this summer, even as tension between the world's two largest economies mounts over the South China Sea.

The Rim of the Pacific exercise, known as RIMPAC, is billed as the world's largest international maritime exercise, held every two years in Hawaii in June and July.

"Joining these military exercises will be beneficial to improving the Chinese navy's ability to contend with non-traditional security threats," Wu Qian, a spokesman of China's Ministry of Defence, told a regular briefing.

"At the same time, it will also be beneficial to deepening China’s professional exchanges and pragmatic cooperation with the relevant countries' navies."

China would send warships to participate, Wu said, but did not say how many or what kind.

"Needless to say, military relations between China and the US have some difficulties and obstacles," Wu added.

He cited the examples of US arms sales to Taiwan and reconnaissance by US warships near Chinese territory.

Wu also criticized the US’ double standard on the South China Sea issue.

Wu said the whole brouhaha stirred up by the United States over the alleged "militarization in the South China Sea" is clearly double standards.

Several high-ranking US officials have recently accused China of militarizing the South China Sea and ratcheting up tensions.

The US has sent military vessels and planes into China's territory without authorization to conduct surveillance, he said.

Some countries in the South China Sea are illegally occupying China's islands and reefs, and have deployed radars and artillery there.

He added that the US had called on its allies and partners to conduct "targeted" joint drills and patrols.

"Is that not a kind of militarization?" he asked.

He said that the US should not turn a blind eye to all those behaviors while throwing accusations at China.

US Admiral Harry Harris, chief of the US Pacific Command, has said he wants to build ties between the two militaries of the countries.

Past participants in RIMPAC have included nations such as Russia that are not treaty allies with the United States.

China took part in the RIMPAC exercises in 2014 with more than 20 countries.

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