Sunday, February 03, 2013

Chinese invited to naval exercise

Chinese invited to naval exercise

    From: The Australian
    February 04, 2013 12:00AM

CHINA has been invited to send warships to a massive naval exercise off Hawaii with the US, Australia and 20 other nations next year to help improve military-to-military contact in the region and reduce the chances of accidental conflict.

The People's Liberation Army Navy has also been asked to take part in a naval review in Sydney Harbour later this year to mark the 100th anniversary of the arrival of the Royal Australian Navy's first ships in Sydney harbour on October 4, 1913.

Beijing has not formally responded yet but if the Chinese warships do come it is likely they will exercise with Australian vessels in local waters.

The Commander of the US Pacific Command, Admiral Samuel J Locklear, said in a telephone media conference from Japan that Australia was a critical pillar in the rebalancing of US military strategy to what he called the "Indo-Asia-Pacific".

Admiral Locklear said the US was pursuing a lasting relationship with China including a military-to-military relationship.

"Our two countries have a strong stake in regional peace and stability and an interest in building a co-operative bilateral relationship," he said.

"We're hoping to look past those areas on which we differ and to focus our relationship on our converging interests such as counter-piracy, counter-terrorism, protecting sea lanes of communication, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief responses."

Admiral Locklear said that as China grew as a world economic power and a regional security partner, it had to be brought into the security environment in a way that left it confident its interests were protected.

"We should make sure that we have a robust dialogue economically, politically and militarily," the admiral said.

"We're working hard at the military-to-military piece of it because it's important that . . . we don't have miscalculations. That we understand each other.

"We have good dialogues, we have good cross visits with each other. We have invited the Chinese Navy to come to Hawaii for the Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise in 2014. It's the world's largest exercise. We have 22 nations.

"These types of things are great opportunities for us to get to know each other and to build trust and co-operation and to understand how we operate together."

Admiral Locklear said that learning to co-operate for disaster relief was the key to future security in the region.

He said military forces were well placed to respond quickly to humanitarian crises and to help restore order after natural disasters.

"We want to ensure we have the right level of co-operation, that we've talked through the processes of who we can bring assistance quickly."

Admiral Locklear said that in humanitarian crises, military forces could move in quickly to restore hope and order so that other government agencies could respond.

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