Fletcher in the News

China Makes Debut in RIMPAC Naval Drills: Professor Khan Weighs In

Voice of America

Sulmaan Khan, assistant professor of Chinese foreign relations at the Fletcher School

As maritime tensions simmer between Beijing and its neighbors in the East and South China Seas, China for the first time is joining them in naval drills led by the United States. The military maneuvers also provide an exercise in diplomacy and intelligence gathering, analysts say.

…The United States invited China to take part in the naval exercises to encourage a stable, “sustained and substantive” military relationship with Beijing, a State Department official, Dan Russel, said in recent congressional testimony on the future of the two countries’ relations. 

The Chinese may have another motive, said Sulmaan Khan, assistant professor of Chinese foreign relations at Tufts University’s Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.

“For China at least, it’s not clear that this is going to build as much trust as it would on the American side,” Khan said. “Whereas [Washington] D.C. might be hoping that this will build trust, show our intentions to build a good relationship, for the Chinese participants there’s going to be the question of ‘yes, but what are the Americans leaving out? What are we not seeing in these exercises?’ It’s as much a fact-finding mission for them as much as anything else.”

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