BEIJING, July 14 (ChinaMil) – The Rim of the Pacific-2014 (RIMPAC 2014) multinational naval exercise has entered into the maritime exercise phase.
Since it is the first time for the Navy of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLAN) to participate in the exercise, more attention have been paid to the exercise this year.
The reporter of the PLA Daily conducted an interview with Zhang Junshe, associate researcher from the Military Academic Research Institute of the PLA Navy, with regards to how to view China's participation in the exercise.
Cooperation overpowers divergence and participation consolidates goodwill
Previously, there was a constant discord between China and the U.S. concerning such issues as the East China Sea, the South China Sea, cyber security, and so on. Some media used such words as "unexpected" and "beyond expectation" to describe China's sending warships to participate in the exercise.
Zhang Junshe said that the relationship of the Chinese and the U.S. militaries has entered into a new period of development. Both sides have reached a consensus on establishing an appropriate relationship between the two militaries in correspondence with the new relationship between the two major countries.
The establishment of the new-type China-U.S. military relationship serves to prevent the relationship of the two countries, featuring economic interdependence and win-win cooperation, from being corroded by the increased conflicts between the two countries in the security field.
China's dispatch of advanced warships to participate in the exercise shows the Chinese side's willingness to push forward the healthy and stable development of the new-type China-U.S. military relationship, which is conducive to promoting the two countries’ positive interaction in the security issues in Asia-Pacific region.
"According to the unwritten rules of practice, a country that participates in the RIMPAC for the first time should observe without participating in the exercise. The fact that the Chinese navy takes part in 7 subjects of the actual drills at the first time of its participation reflects to some degree the importance that both sides have attached to this exercise and the proactive attitude that both sides have showed in developing the relationship between the two militaries, Zhang added.
An unbiased mind should be held towards the China-U.S. military relationship despite of fluctuations in the process.
In the exercise, the Chinese taskforce composed of 4 warships, the second largest only next to the U.S., the hosting country, has become the focus of many media reports.
“Such words as ‘the first time’, ‘breakthrough’, and the like, may catch much attention, but sometimes, they deviate from actual situations”, Zhang Junshe said. "Though this exercise bears proactive significance in promoting the China-U.S. military relationship, it is not as significant as imagined by the media, and is far from the situation supposed by some people that it marks the ‘progress into a new phase’ by the two militaries,” he added.
According to Zhang Junshe, the China-U.S. military relationship has gone through ups and downs after the Cold War. We should keep an unbiased mind in order to look at the relationship between the two militaries in a more dialectical way. We shouldn't expect that a high-level mutual visit or a joint exercise may solve all issues; nor should we let contingent tension or a specific friction affect the overall situation of cooperation. We should not only be alert to disturbance from negative factors when the relationship between the two militaries is in honeymoon period, but also keep faith when it is in the lowest point by seeking platform of cooperation, expanding the positive aspects and expressing goodwill.
Bilateral and multi-lateral exchanges to improve mutual trust
According to Zhang Junshe, it needs a China-U.S. bilateral perspective as well as a multilateral one on the regional level to observe Chinese navy's participation in the RIMPAC multinational military exercise. The improvement on the military relationship between China and the U.S. as the two most important countries in the Asia-Pacific region and the globe is in line with the interests of most countries in the Asia-Pacific region and in the world, and plays an active role in maintaining peace and stability of the world.
"Meanwhile, the joint military exercise also provides an opportunity of exchange and cooperation for the navies of various countries. It lays down a good foundation for the joint efforts to safeguard the maritime security in the future," Zhang Junshe stressed.
A total of 22 countries participate in the "RIMPAC 2014" multinational military exercise. It helps to deepen the professional exchange and pragmatic cooperation, to bring down misunderstanding and misjudgment, and to improve the mutual trust between the Chinese navy and the navies of other countries.
New and old concepts mix, cooperation needed to handle common challenges
Under the polarized framework of U.S.-Soviet Union confrontation, the RIMPAC military exercise was naturally affected by the Cold War. In the wake of the U.S.'s rapid push of its "Asia-Pacific rebalancing" strategy, China has replaced the Soviet Union (Russia) in many people's eyes and becomes the imaginary enemy of the exercise.
"Those subjects related to the field of traditional security, such as the anti-submarine, anti-warship, landing, and so on, are mainly attended by the U.S. and its allied countries," Zhang Junshe said. "At the same time, the U.S. side also expressed that measures will be taken in the exercise to avoid revealing sensitive information to the Chinese side. This reflects the fact that the U.S. side still has the Cold War mentality and the zero-sum thinking, which runs counter to the efforts committed to the establishment of a new-type China-U.S. military relationship," he continued.
"It needs to be pointed out that the contents of the RIMPAC military exercise have been extended from the simple allied operation in the early period to the handling of non-traditional security threats," said Zhang Junshe. "The subjects that the Chinese navy participates in are mainly focused on the non-traditional security field, such as anti-piracy, humanitarian assistance and disaster reduction, maritime search and rescue, and so on, which are the common challenges that every country is faced with. They cannot be dealt with independently by any single country," he added.
By Lv Desheng, reporter of the PLA Daily