Saturday, November 14, 2015

Earthquakes are bringing Seattle and China closer

Soldiers carry out rescue work in Pishan county, northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. Starting Monday, and continuing until Nov. 21, Chinese soldiers will share their best disaster planning techniques with JBLM soldiers, Marines and the Coast Guard. (Xu Runxian/Xinhua via AP)

Next week, nearly 100 Chinese ground troops will be touching down at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. It will be the first time the People's Liberation Army sets foot on an army base on continental U.S. soil.

The Chinese armed forces are teaming up with American soldiers for a week-long disaster response training exchange.

"In January, soldiers from a station in Hawaii went to Guan province, where the Chinese hosted a humanitarian assistance and disaster response-focused exchange," explained Lt. Col. Jason Shelton. "So now we're doing this here at JBLM."

Beginning Monday and continuing through Nov. 21, Chinese soldiers will share their best disaster planning techniques with JBLM soldiers, Marines and the Coast Guard. Then they'll do field training on search-and-rescue techniques and emergency medical deployment, focusing on potentially devastating earthquakes.

The Puget Sound and China share common ground when it comes to earthquake. The Puget Sound region has several major faults and the Cascadia Subduction Zone. The Chinese live in the shadow of the Himalayas.

"These are one of the few things we can actually train with the Chinese on," Shelton said. "But more importantly, despite our differences, these humanitarian assistance disaster responses are one of the things that we can really come together on despite all our differences that we may have. And it builds our relationship with the United States and the People's Republic of China."

The hope is that when the "Big One" hits, or an ally is devastated by a hurricane or tsunami, the U.S. and China can combine forces to save lives.

The training comes at a time of increased tensions with China at the federal level. China's military is in the middle of a build-up and has been making claims on islands in international waters. The country has also been widely criticized for cyber crimes.

But the Northwest has been intensifying ties with China. Besides President Xi's tour of the Puget Sound region, the University of Washington debuted a dual degree program with Beijing's Tsinghua University. Chinese companies continue to invest in Northwest real estate, and the country is still Washington's biggest customer for exports.
You may also like:

No comments :

Post a Comment