AP — QINGDAO, China — The visit of the U.S. Navy guided missile destroyer USS Benfold to the northern Chinese port of Qingdao this week is the latest development in a long-term effort to build trust between the countries’ militaries amid tensions and a rivalry for dominance in Asia.
Though China resents the highly visible presence of the U.S. armed forces in Asia, especially the South China Sea, it has gradually overcome its reluctance and shown a willingness to engage that the sides hope will help avoid conflicts. Below is a look at the Benfold’s visit and some of the steps the sides have taken to build their relationship:
What’s the significance of the visit?
The Benfold’s visit is the first to China by an American warship since Beijing responded furiously to a Hague-based international arbitration tribunal’s ruling that its expansive South China Sea maritime claims had no basis in law. The fact the visit went ahead appears to show that Beijing now values the military-to-military relationship too much to allow it to be derailed by other events as was once the case. Qingdao is the base of China’s northern fleet and is thus less sensitive than ports to the south closer to hotspots, such as Taiwan and the South China Sea.
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