US, Chinese navies to hold first drills since South China Sea ruling

A US destroyer is making the first visit by an American warship to a Chinese port since an international tribunal last month ruled against Beijing over its claims to the South China Sea.

The missile destroyer USS Benfold arrived at Qingdao port and will stay for five days, Chinese media reports said Tuesday.

The visit which began on Monday could help cool tensions after the ruling in July which found no legal basis for Beijing's claims to almost the entire South China Sea.

The disputed area contains key shipping lanes and is believed to be rich in mineral resources.

Around 285 US Navy officials and personnel are set to engage in joint drills with their Chinese counterparts as well as sightseeing, the state-run China Military Online reported.

At the end of the five-day visit, the destroyer will carry out joint exercises with a Chinese frigate.

Experts had warned that China, which had refused to take part in the arbitration and declared the verdict null and void, might increase its military presence in the disputed waters. 

US Navy Chief Admiral John Richardson said in Beijing last month that his goal was to forge a relationship and keep open communication even "if we have different opinions." 

Last update: Tue, 09/08/2016 - 14:38

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