By Guo Yuandan
According to its domestic media, the US would not send warships to participate in the multinational fleet review to be conducted by the Chinese PLA Navy, in which multi-navies from the worldwide are expected to join.
Senior Colonel Wu Qian, Spokesperson for China’s Ministry of National Defense (MND), announced that China plans to hold a multinational naval parade to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People Liberation Army (PLA) Navy in Qingdao, a coastal city in east China’s Shandong Province, in late April, 2019. The celebration will include high-level symposiums, multinational fleet review, military band performances, cultural and sports exchanges as well as other activities, Wu said.
Quoting US officials’ report on April 3, The Washington Free Beacon reported that US State Department has made a decision to skip the key navy anniversary. Behind the decision was the concern that China might use the presence of US warships to bolster its international standing. Therefore, there will be no US ships or senior military officers participating in the parade, with only officials from the US Defense Attaché’s office in Beijing attending as alternative. Regarding this decision, a Pentagon spokesman had no immediate comment.
It is no surprise that the US will not send fleets to participate in the Chinese naval celebrations. This is actually a continuation of its exchange policy between the two militaries in the past two years. On May 23, 2018, the US Department of Defense announced that it would disinvite the PLA Navy from taking part in Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) drills 2018, with the excuse of so-called “China’s militarization of disputed features in the South China Sea”.
As for the cancelling of US participation in the PLA Navy anniversary, Retired Navy Capt. James Fanell, former deputy chief of staff for intelligence and information operations at the US Pacific Fleet, said, “It is reassuring to see the US administration sustain its previous decisions by not sending any Navy warship to participate in the PLA Navy’s 70th anniversary international fleet review in Qingdao. Not only would the presence of Navy warships legitimize the PLA Navy’s bad behavior at sea, it would also undercut the 2018 decision to disinvite the PLAN from the Rim of the Pacific Exercise.”
James Inhofe, chairman of Senate Armed Services Committee, also gave his support to the decision. “America’s ships and sailors are needed across the Indo-Pacific,” he told the Free Beacon, “America’s Navy is busy enough confronting the challenges posed by China’s aggression in the South China Sea and other critical aspects of great power competition without the distraction of participating in communist pageantry.”
The media report further mentioned that the absence of US warship from the Qingdao military event is likely to influence US allies when making their plans.
Up till now, over 60 countries have said they would send navy delegations to participate in the multinational naval event and a number of countries will send navy vessels to take part in the international fleet review.
An anonymous expert said on April 7 that the fleet review is essentially a multinational naval activity. The US has only limited impact. China-US military exchange is not a unilateral gift from the US to China. “The US concern over its ships’ attendance will strengthen China’s international influence is very absurd and untenable,” said the expert.
“China’s international influence depends on the Chinese people themselves. Its international prestige is naturally enhanced through international cooperation and enhanced exchanges,” the expert noted. “The celebration of the PLA Navy’s 70th anniversary is a universal practice and is in line with international practice,” added the expert. “Exchanges between China and US militaries are mutual-benefit, which will help to enhance mutual understanding and prevent misunderstanding and misjudgment. The US military reduced interaction with the Chinese military, which also reduced its opportunities to understand the Chinese navy better.”
The expert also believes that China would not be surprised if the US State Department did make this decision as reported. The US State Department has been smearing China and continuously making some irresponsible and erroneous remarks recently. “This indicates that some Americans are full of Cold War mentality, regarding China as an imaginary enemy and a strategic competitor. In fact, this kind of Cold War mentality is not beneficial to China-US relations, and certainly not to world peace and stability,” the expert added.
Disclaimer: The author of this article is Guo Yuandan with the Global Times. The article is translated from Chinese into English and edited by the China Military Online. The information, ideas or opinions appearing in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the views of eng.chinamil.com.cn. Chinamil.com.cn does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.