U.S., Chinese Officials Plan Military Exercise, Port Call In April

U.S., Chinese Officials Plan Military Exercise, Port Call In April
March 6th, 2008  
Team Infidel

Topic: U.S., Chinese Officials Plan Military Exercise, Port Call In April

U.S., Chinese Officials Plan Military Exercise, Port Call In April
Inside The Pentagon
March 6, 2008
Pg. 1

U.S. and Chinese officials have agreed to conduct a joint military exercise next month when a U.S. ship may visit Shanghai, Inside the Pentagon has learned.
The proposed port call, slated for April 7 to 13, and the details of the exercise will be negotiated through diplomatic channels.
This is one of several agreements reached in bilateral maritime safety talks held Feb. 25 and 26 in Qingdao, China. Maj. Gen. Thomas Conant, U.S. Pacific Command’s director of strategic plans and policy, led the U.S. delegation. His counterpart at the negotiating table was Rear Adm. Zhang Leiyu, deputy chief of staff for China’s navy.
PACOM spokeswoman Lt. Cmdr. Amy Derrick-Frost said the ship visit and exercise proposed for April have not yet been finalized. It is unclear which U.S. ship might be involved, she said. The exercise might consist of two ships rendezvousing and conducting flag hoists and signal/semaphore drills or fleet ship maneuvers, she said.
In January, China let the U.S. command ship Blue Ridge make a port call in Hong Kong, two months after its refusal to admit a U.S. aircraft carrier and minesweepers irked American officials.
Last week’s talks are tied to the 1998 Military Maritime Consultative Agreement (MMCA). The meetings are supposed to be annual, but this was the first plenary session in two years. PACOM spokesman Maj. David Doherty said there were no meetings in 2007 “due to scheduling conflicts and postponements.”
ITP obtained a copy of the Feb. 26 joint statement, signed by both delegations, which summarizes the proceedings of the meeting in Qingdao.
The two sides also discussed the 2006 joint maritime search and rescue exercise (SAREX), the military maritime and air security situation of the two countries, the history of MMCA over the past decade, a Chinese proposal to amend the 1998 pact, the issue of broadening consultative channels for Sino-U.S. Military maritime and air security at the policy level and the agenda items for upcoming working-group meetings.
In addition, the U.S. side met with North Sea Fleet Vice Commander Rear Adm. Zhang Panhong and visited the Chinese frigate Louyang (FF-527).
“Both sides agreed that MMCA has made positive contributions to the development of relations between the two militaries as well as the two countries, and has enhanced the mutual understanding and trust between the two sides,” the official summary states.
The delegations also agreed the 2006 exercise was a “significant” cooperative effort that provided a “very good” platform for technical exchanges between front-line officers of both navies, setting a “sound foundation for expanding pragmatic exchanges and cooperation between the two militaries,” according to the statement.
U.S. and Chinese delegations discussed possible ways to deepen exchanges and cooperation between the two navies using MMCA, which can be focused on traditional and non-traditional security issues such as joint exercises with increased complexity, personnel exchanges, joint antiterrorism operations, humanitarian assistance and search-and-rescue exercises.
“Both sides agreed to advance joint exercises in a positive and prudent manner and gradually expand the areas, contents and methods of the exercises,” the statement says. The Chinese side proposed that officials study the idea of joint military exercises that deal with antiterrorism, gun firing and more complex search-and-rescue operations. The U.S. side proposed an “aircraft distress entry table top exercise, submarine unalerted encounters and emergency communications and a more complex SAREX,” the statement says.
Ideas for future exercises beyond the small-scale event eyed for April could be discussed at a working group meeting in July in the United States.
The statement says China proposed the development of the MMCA should follow several basic principles: to add positive elements for the improvement and development of relations between the two militaries; to act as a platform for pragmatic exchanges and cooperation between the two navies; to avoid accidents, misunderstandings and misjudgments between air and maritime forces of both sides; and to solve maritime safety and security issues.
“The Chinese side stated the need to amend the MMCA agreement to suit the development of this situation,” the statement says. The U.S. delegation agreed to report the request to senior U.S. authorities and to consider the necessity and feasibility of amending and improving the 1998 pact.
China also voiced “concerns on issues of national maritime and air security,” the statement says. The Chinese side proposed expanding the talks on these concerns through the Sino-U.S. Deputy Minister Level Consultative Talk (DCT) and Sino-U.S. Ministry of Defense Policy Consultative Talk (DPCT), as well as the MMCA framework. The U.S. side replied that MMCA is “not the proper channel to discuss policy issues,” noting these issues could be discussed through the other two channels cited by the Chinese side.
-- Christopher J. Castelli

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