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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, November 13, 2006

Navy forging ties with Beijing

Advertiser Staff


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In an effort to improve relations between China and the United States, U.S. Pacific Fleet commander Adm. Gary Roughead arrived in China over the weekend and plans to call on the U.S. ambassador in Beijing and visit with China's civilian and military leaders.

During his weeklong visit his first as commander of U.S. Pacific Fleet Roughead will visit the amphibious ship USS Juneau, which is participating in a search-and-rescue exercise with Chinese naval forces.

These visits are building upon other activities, including the visit of Chinese navy ships to U.S. ports, military personnel exchanges and a recent gathering of Western Pacific naval leaders in Honolulu.

This year, two Chinese navy ships the destroyer Qingdao and the oiler Hongzehu visited Pearl Harbor and San Diego, the first part of a two-part exercise between the two countries in the Military Maritime Consultative Agreement. These exercises contribute to improved working relationships and act as foundations for increasing disaster responsiveness and promoting regional security, according to the Navy.

The Pacific Fleet has a history of working with regional navies. This month, Roughead hosted the 10th Western Pacific Naval Symposium in Honolulu, a biennial gathering of naval leaders from the region, to discuss exercises, regional security, military exchange programs, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.

"We are all professional sailors," Roughead said in a prepared statement. "The Western Pacific Naval Symposium brings regional naval leaders together to discuss matters of importance and interest that lead to enhanced regional security and prosperity."

The Pacific Fleet is responsible for more than 50 percent of the Earth's surface, an area of just more than 100 million square miles. Each day, Pacific Fleet ships are at sea in the Pacific, Indian and Arctic oceans, from the West Coast of the United States to the Arabian Gulf. The Pacific Fleet encompasses about 178 ships, 1,500 aircraft, and about 160,000 sailors, Marines and civilians.

Its job is to keep sea lanes open, deter aggression, provide stability and support humanitarian relief activities.