China will send its senior naval commander to visit the United States in September ahead of the Rim of the Pacific naval exercise next year, which will involve naval forces from both countries, a senior US officer has said.
Admiral Jonathan Greenert, chief of US Naval Operations, said at the Pentagon on Friday that he is looking forward to greeting his Chinese counterpart, Admiral Wu Shengli, in September.
He also said China will join the Rim of the Pacific 2014 exercise, which he said could be bigger than the last one, which involved 22 nations.
The large-scale exercise has long excluded China, the major nation in the Asia-Pacific, which is often seen as a target instead, experts said. The inclusion of China in the exercise is seen by experts as part of an ongoing improvement in military ties between the two nations.
Greenert said the US and China have participated a number of recent bilateral military exchanges, including the ASEAN disaster relief and humanitarian assistance exercises hosted by Brunei last month.
The two countries have agreed that they need to establish protocols at sea that will make both comfortable, as well as improving communication and cooperation where necessary, according to Greenert, commander of the US Seventh Fleet from 2004 to 2006.
This follows a trip to China in April by Martin Dempsey, US chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Meanwhile, Hagel is expected to pay a return visit to China in 2014, according to the outcome document of the fifth round of China-US Strategic and Economic Dialogue held in Washington a week ago.