South China Sea War: Tensions High As US Guided Missile Destroyer Pays China A Visit
Tensions may be high, especially between the U.S. and China in the South China Sea. Nonetheless, that doesn’t stop one U.S. guided missile destroyer from making a scheduled stop in China.Advertisement
The Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Benfold (DDG 65) arrived in Qingdao, China on Monday for its scheduled port visit. Upon their arrival, they were greeted by a number of band members from China’s People Liberation Army (Navy). The goal during the visit is advance U.S. maritime cooperation with China amidst difference of opinion when it comes to the South China Sea dispute.
For Benfold commanding officer Commander Justin Harts, the way to go about forging a relationship with the People’s Liberation Army (Navy) is to appeal to their similarities with each other. After all, they are all sailors.
“Sailors are Sailors at the end of the day, be it in the east or in the west; we all face the same challenges at sea. These similarities unite us,” he explained.
According to the U.S. Navy, the port visit to Qingdao will include Benfold sailors attending events hosted by the Chinese military. For their part, Benfold itself will be holding a reception as well as ship visits. There will be also be a sports day and community relations event featuring the U.S. 7th Fleet Band. At the same time, Benfold sailors will be seeing sights in Qingdao as they join tours organized by the ship’s Morale, Welfare and Recreation program.
At the same time, China’s own ships have recently returned from their visit in the U.S. The Chinese naval task force that took part in the 2016 Rim of the Pacific Exercise had left Pearl Harbor on August 5. According to the Chinese Defense Ministry, this included the guided missile destroyer Xi’an, the guided-missile frigate Hengshui, the supply ship Gaoyouhu, the submarine rescue ship Changdao and the hospital ship Peace Ark
Benfold’s port visit comes as China started conducting its air combat patrols along the South China Sea. China has recently stressed it will decide to establish an Air Defense Identification Zone or ADIZ in the area should it feel that its sovereignty is under threat.