Monday, June 12, 2006

US Coast Guard Ship In China ForJoint Training

A US Coast Guard cutter with 168 crew arrived in eastern China at the weekend for what US authorities called a "historic" visit aimed at improving international cooperation in maritime law enforcement. The Honolulu-based USCGC Rush (WHEC 723), which will remain in the Chinese port of Qingdao until Thursday, is "the first major cutter to visit China since World War II," according to a statement released by the US Coast Guard on Sunday.
Chinese military personnel board US Coast Guard's cutter Rush
"During this historic port call, Rush will engage in professional law enforcement exchanges with the China Ministry of Public Security Border Control Department," the statement said. A formal welcoming ceremony for the 110-metre USCGC Rush was held in Qingdao on Sunday, a spokesman for the US embassy in Beijing told reporters. "We look forward to the opportunity to collaborate with our fellow maritime safety and security professionals on issues of mutual importance," said the cutter's commanding officer, Captain Dana Ware. The Coast Guard said the training exercises, to include the demonstration of techniques for boarding and searching suspect vessels, would "enhance international collaboration and cooperation between foreign coast guards".
USCGC Rush (WHEC 723)
The exercises come within the framework of the North Pacific Coast Guard Forum set up in 1999, which brings together coast guards from Canada, China, Japan, Russia, South Korea and the United States. Late last month, China and South Korea opted not to participate in six-nation anti-smuggling drills in Japanese waters, with diplomats in Beijing saying China was concerned about upsetting its ally North Korea. The USCGC SEQUOIA (WLB-215), a smaller cutter, visited China at that time.
Washington, which has called on China to be more transparent with respect to military spending, has said it wants to deepen military cooperation with Beijing in order to reduce the risk of a future confrontation.

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