US Navy chief to visit Chinese counterpart in wake of South China Sea ruling

U.S. Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Adm. John Richardson is scheduled to visit his PLA Navy counterpart Adm. Wu Shengli for the first time during his tenure, in the wake of the international South China Sea court case ruling.

Richardson will be visiting Beijing and Qingdao from July 17 to 20 “to improve mutual understanding and encourage professional interaction between the two navies”, the U.S. Navy said.

This is Richardson’s first visit to China as CNO and will be the first in-person meeting for the two leaders. Over the last year, the two admirals have held three discussions via video teleconference.

Discussion topics will include the South China Sea, the ongoing Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise and future opportunities for the two navies to operate together.

While in Beijing, Richardson is scheduled to visit PLA(N) headquarters and meet with other senior Chinese defense officials. In Qingdao, home of the Chinese North Sea Fleet, he is scheduled to visit the Chinese Navy’s submarine academy and tour the aircraft carrier Liaoning (CV-16).

Richardson visit will take place a week after the Hague tribunal ruled in favor of the Philippines in a case on the disputed waters of the South China Sea concluding that China’s territorial claims in the region had no legal grounding.

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