HONG KONG — Chinese troops are set to take part in disaster-relief exercises in Hawaii on Tuesday, in what China’s state media billed as the first time the country’s soldiers have drilled on U.S. territory.
People’s Liberation Army soldiers will conduct humanitarian-assistance drills in Hawaii until Nov. 14 with their U.S. counterparts, simulating relief operations after an earthquake hits a third country, according to a report on the website of the Communist Party’s People’s Daily newspaper.
The drills, which follow a series of naval exercises off Hawaii in September, reflect deepened military ties between the two countries even as they square off over allegations of Chinese military hacking and China’s territorial disputes with U.S. allies Japan and the Philippines.
Chinese ships are to take part next year in the RIMPAC war games off the Hawaiian coast, multinational exercises that bring together militaries from across the Pacific Rim.
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Even as cooperation intensifies, competition between the two militaries is also on the rise. China’s defense budget has more than doubled since 2006, and last year it commissioned its first aircraft carrier. Still, the U.S. defense budget, the world’s largest, is five times the size of China’s announced military spending.
On Thursday, U.S. and Chinese soldiers will train in a field exercise at Bellows Air Force Base, on a Marine Corps training area on the east side of Oahu.
Officials say the first two days of the exchange will be academic, while the field work will include practice with field equipment.
The United States will have 50 people participate, including soldiers and civilians from U.S. Army Pacific, the Hawaii Army National Guard, the Army Corps of Engineers and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. China is expected to bring 60 soldiers and observers.