News ID: 115730
Publish Date : 05 June 2023 - 23:04

U.S., China Send Warships to Drills in Indonesia

JAKARTA (AFP/Reuters) -- The United States and China have sent warships to the multinational naval drills that began in Indonesia on Monday, despite the rifts between the two powers.
Washington and Beijing are engaged in fierce competition on diplomatic, military, technological and economic fronts.
The U.S. military has stepped up its Asia-Pacific operations to counter China, which has recently staged several rounds of war drills around Taiwan.
But both dispatched warships to the 2023 Multilateral Naval Exercise (MNEK) hosted by Indonesia in its eastern waters off Sulawesi island from Monday to Thursday.
The U.S. Navy has sent a littoral combat ship to the exercise, a U.S. embassy spokesperson in Jakarta told AFP on Sunday.
The Chinese defense ministry said last week that it would send a destroyer and a frigate at the invitation of the Indonesian navy.
Australia and Russia were also expected to send warships, according to an Indonesian military list seen by AFP.
Officials said there would be 17 foreign vessels involved in the drills, which will focus on non-military operations with key allies.
“MNEK is a non-war training which prioritizes maritime cooperation in the region,” Indonesian navy spokesperson I Made Wira Hady said in a statement.
Washington and Beijing have clashed this year over a number of Asia-Pacific issues including Taiwan, a self-ruled, U.S.-backed island that China considers its territory.
They have also been involved in a diplomatic tussle over Pacific island nations.
A Chinese state-backed newspaper criticized the visit of a senior U.S. State Department official to China, saying his visit was motivated more by Washington’s own goal to portray itself as the side seeking communication and not Beijing.
The United States has been trying to create an image as a responsible country by delivering a “goodwill message” to the outside world that it has been seeking communication with China, and trying to shift the blame to China for the lack of communication or refusal to communicate, the Global Times wrote late on Sunday, citing Chinese experts.
The scathing commentary coincided with the arrival of Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Kritenbrink in Beijing, in a visit that the State Department said will see discussions on “key issues in the bilateral relationship” of the two superpowers.
Sino-U.S. relations have sunk to new lows since U.S. State Secretary Antony Blinken scrapped a planned trip to China in February after an alleged Chinese spy balloon flew through U.S. airspace.
Tensions have further worsened as both sides clashed over matters ranging from Taiwan, which China claims as its own, to military activities in the South China Sea.