US Navy planning joint exercise with China

The bi-annual Exercise Rim of the Pacific ended barely a week ago, marking the first time ships from the Chinese People's Liberation Army Navy have taken part in a US-hosted naval exercise, and already, the PRC and US Navy are planning their next practice session. The two sides met yesterday aboard the flagship of the US Seventh Fleet, the USS Blue Ridge (shown above, at dock in Shanghai), to discuss a joint search-and-rescue exercise.

" If we can get the planning done for this, we're hopeful we can actually do [the exercise] the first day after we leave here," Cmdr. William Marks, a spokesman for the fleet, told Stars and Stripes.

The move highlights the urges on both sides to repair the rather chilly US-Chinese relationship, which has been strained recently over China's actions in the East and South China seas. There have been a number of incidents over the past few years involving US and Chinese ships, ranging from harassment to near collisions.

"The good news about this is it's a recognition, I think, or acceptance by the Chinese that what we've been saying to them for some time is that military operations and survey operations in another country's [maritime zones] are within international law and are acceptable, and this is a fundamental right that nations have," Adm. Samuel Locklear, of the Navy's Pacific Command, told Stars and Stripes.

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