WASHINGTON – China’s navy will join a U.S.-led joint exercise for the first time in the summer of 2014, a Pentagon official said Friday.
The United States hopes that China’s participation in the Rim of the Pacific Exercise (RIMPAC) will help confidence-building efforts between the U.S. and Chinese navies at a time when both are boosting their military presence in the Asia-Pacific region.
“We are delighted to have their participation in what will be a strengthening and growing military-to-military relationship with China, which matches and follows our growing political and economic relationship with China,” U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said in a speech on Wednesday in Jakarta.
Former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta had asked Beijing to join RIMPAC when he visited the Chinese capital last September.
China’s navy had taken part in the multilateral drill in the 1990s as an observer, the Pentagon official said.
RIMPAC has been conducted roughly biennially since 1971 in waters near Hawaii. More than 20 countries, including Japanese members of the Maritime Self-Defense Force, participated last year.