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Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy opens warships for public viewing in Qingdao
A member of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy stands guard on the Shijiazhuang, a Type 051C guided-missile destroyer, as the Navy opens warships for public viewing to mark its upcoming 75th founding anniversary, at the port in Qingdao, Shandong province, China, on Sunday. Image: Reuters/Florence Lo
politics

China hosts foreign naval officials amid regional tensions

22 Comments
By Laurie Chen

The Chinese Navy on Sunday kicked off a biennial meeting of top foreign naval officials in the port city of Qingdao, in a show of military diplomacy that will be closely watched for signs of more engagement between China and the United States.

The four-day event with delegations from 30 countries comes during heightened tensions in the South China Sea, as U.S. treaty ally Manila is in an increasingly fraught standoff with Beijing over the strategic waterway, which could be a potential flashpoint for U.S-China relations.

Pacific Fleet Commander Admiral Stephen Koehler will attend the Western Pacific Naval Symposium on behalf of the United States, according to a source familiar with the matter. Other country delegations include Australia, France, India, South Korea, Russia and Britain, state media reported.

Participants will hold closed-door talks on Monday, with seminars on topics such as addressing maritime security challenges. They will also discuss the Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea, a set of guidelines formulated a decade ago, meant to de-escalate tensions between militaries at sea. It has not since been updated to cover drone warfare.

A January preliminary meeting discussed the creation of a working group to prevent drone collisions at sea, state media reported.

The event overlaps with annual U.S.-Philippines large-scale joint military drills beginning on Monday, which will occur outside Philippine territorial waters for the first time.

Tensions are particularly high around the Second Thomas Shoal in the South China Sea, where Manila has accused Beijing of "harassment", including the use of water cannons against Philippine vessels.

The United States, Japan and the Philippines signed a cooperation agreement at a trilateral summit last week, where leaders expressed concerns over China's "dangerous and aggressive behavior" in the South China Sea, which Beijing slammed as "bloc politics".

"The U.S.-Philippines joint drills this time cover a bigger region, involve more troops and include exercises out of its original defensive scope such as anti-submarine and anti-missile drills," said Cao Weidong, a military expert and former researcher at China's PLA Naval Military Studies Research Institute.

"It is not an issue when the U.S. carries out defensive drills with the Philippines, but when these drills become offensive in nature and pose a threat to neighboring countries, we must not only be on high alert but also respond."

However, Washington and China resumed top-level military contact on Tuesday, with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin speaking to his Chinese counterpart for the first time in almost two years, as both countries seek to restore military ties. This month, U.S. and Chinese military officials met in Hawaii.

China is hosting the multilateral meeting for the first time since 2014, coinciding this year with the 75th anniversary of the People's Liberation Army Navy on Tuesday.

Beijing aims to expand its ocean-going fleet, which some analysts predict will become the world's biggest by 2035. President Xi Jinping has repeatedly called for a "world-class" military to be established by 2027, the 100th anniversary of the People's Liberation Army's founding.

China has yet to launch sea trials for its next aircraft carrier, the Fujian, a key step toward expanding its maritime presence in the Indo-Pacific, as the United States and its allies step up naval operations in the region.

China is involved in maritime or territorial disputes with other attending countries, including Japan. Beijing and Tokyo have accused each other of maritime incursions after a December coast guard confrontation near disputed islands in the East China Sea.

In November, Australia accused China of injuring navy divers using sonar pulses from a Chinese warship.

During the Qingdao meeting, the navy opened several active Chinese warships docked in Qingdao for public visits, including the Guiyang and Shijiazhuang missile destroyers. On a recent guided tour, Reuters journalists saw weapons systems and rescue equipment. Children excitedly posed for photos with missile launchers.

The symposium was last held in Japan in November 2022. Japan, South Korea and the United States met on the sidelines to discuss security challenges in the Indo-Pacific region, including those from North Korea.

© Thomson Reuters 2024.

©2024 GPlusMedia Inc.


22 Comments
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"It is not an issue when the U.S. carries out defensive drills with the Philippines, but when these drills become offensive in nature and pose a threat to neighboring countries, we must not only be on high alert but also respond."

China isn't a neighboring country to the Second Thomas Shoal, so they should be fine with tons of live fire exercises and a permanent outpost there.

3 ( +10 / -7 )

Qingdao is a wonderful coastal city with a past that includes German imperialism that will never be repeated. The only positive legacy is Qingdao Beer.

Japan is taking a pass?

-13 ( +3 / -16 )

deanzaZZRToday 08:54 am JST

The only positive legacy is Qingdao Beer.

Even the beer is terrible.

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-china-67191242

7 ( +9 / -2 )

That's nice. But they still aren't getting an invite to RIMPAC. Last time they took the opportunity to spy on other countries' vessels.

9 ( +10 / -1 )

deanzaZZRToday  08:54 am JST

Qingdao is a wonderful coastal city with a past that includes German imperialism that will never be repeated. The only positive legacy is Qingdao Beer.

Japan is taking a pass?

Look it up before asking.

"The navy hosts the 19th Western Pacific Naval Symposium in Qingdao from Sunday. The top officer of Japan's Maritime Self-Defense Force is among the participants."

https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20240421_03/

9 ( +10 / -1 )

Thanks for doing the legwork, chief. RIMPAC sounds like a medical procedure I would rather avoid.

-7 ( +1 / -8 )

Stay frosty and keep your powder dry.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

deanzaZZR

RIMPAC sounds like a medical procedure I would rather avoid.

Sure, it's only the largest cooperative naval exercise in the world and China would gain nothing from being part of it alongside all of their Pacific friends and allies... /s

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Foreign naval official: We would like to ask about your damage control procedures

Chinese naval officials: What procedures?

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Rising tensions with China as referenced in this article.

The Middle East about to boil over.

The Russia/Ukraine conflict being escalated and perpetuated by Zelensky holding his hand out -- and our stupidity in constantly putting money in it.

The world was never on fire like this when Trump was president. I do miss that.

The good news is that we can have it again soon. And I hope we do.

-3 ( +5 / -8 )

Important to keep in mind that grounding a rusty tank-landing-ship on a reef is an illegal, lowbrow act. Needs to be forcibly towed off.

Even Taiwan has this position.

You can't claim shoals unless you have an island nearby which China does - Mischief Island, direct west 40km. Look at a map and this fact is very obvious.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

JJE

You can't claim shoals unless you have an island nearby which China does - Mischief Island, direct west 40km. Look at a map and this fact is very obvious.

With your fluency in English I'm surprised that you don't know the difference between a reef and an island.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

Mischief is far more an island than a rusty, asbestos-ridden hulk sitting atop a shoal, which is a danger to navigation, an environmental hazard and an eyesore. Not to mention an infringement of sovereignty. Look at an overhead image.

-5 ( +2 / -7 )

JJEToday 02:15 pm JST

You can't claim shoals unless you have an island nearby which China does - Mischief Island

China does claim the area: illegally. So what China "claims" here simply doesn't matter.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/South_China_Sea_Arbitration#Award

It follows, therefore, that, as between the Philippines and China, Mischief Reef and Second Thomas Shoal form part of the exclusive economic zone and continental shelf of the Philippines.

Important to keep in mind that grounding a rusty tank-landing-ship on a reef is an illegal

There's nothing illegal about the Philippines putting a Philippine ship in Philippine waters.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

JJE

Mischief is far more an island than a rusty, asbestos-ridden hulk sitting atop a shoal, which is a danger to navigation, an environmental hazard and an eyesore.

Quite right. The Filipinos should build some "shelters for fishermen" on the Second Thomas Shoal instead and go from there.

Not to mention an infringement of sovereignty.

That's rich. If the PRC can ignore the PCA's ruling why wouldn't the Philippines?

4 ( +5 / -1 )

I used to live in Qingdao and there weren’t many days in the year we could see blue sky like in that photo!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

"Mischief Reef, also known as Panganiban Reef is a low tide elevation (LTE) reef/atoll surrounding a large lagoon."

"Although the reef is well within the Philippines' exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and traditional fishing grounds, Mischief Reef has been controlled by the PRC since 1995, and is also claimed by the Republic of China (Taiwan), and Vietnam."

3 ( +3 / -0 )

TaiwanIsNotChina

Today 07:14 am JST

"It is not an issue when the U.S. carries out defensive drills with the Philippines, but when these drills become offensive in nature and pose a threat to neighboring countries, we must not only be on high alert but also respond."

> China isn't a neighboring country to the Second Thomas Shoal, so they should be fine with tons of live fire exercises and a permanent outpost there.

Good thing the naval officials aren't as smart as you

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

Anyway, China will most probably ramp up buildup as fast as they can now on whatever tiniest rock they control

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

LMFAO that crap doesn't work!!! First they can't power it, they have not figured out what it takes to have the engines and the launching system to be used to power both systems, second the catapult is poorly designed, they have launched several dummy loads and they fell like a brick out of the sky very laughable. Last but not least their MOLES of Hackers haven't finish hacking data bases to steal the rest of the information needed to complete the junk!

China has yet to launch sea trials for its next aircraft carrier, the Fujian, a key step toward expanding its maritime presence in the Indo-Pacific, as the United States and its allies step up naval operations in the region.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Well done China..

Rising the bar higher..

-6 ( +0 / -6 )

The UN agency covering the law of the sea, of which China is a party, determined China’s claims to be without merit.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

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