China on Thursday confirmed it would send warships to join a major U.S.-hosted naval drill this summer, even as tension between the world's two largest economies mounts over the South China Sea.
The Rim of the Pacific exercise, known as RIMPAC, is billed as the world's largest international maritime exercise, held every two years in Hawaii in June and July.
Critics of the Obama administration, including U.S. Senator John McCain, have said the U.S. should bar China from the drills to show U.S. disapproval of its military actions. The U.S. and its allies have expressed growing concern over the Asian giant's military buildup, as well as its increasingly assertive posture in the South China Sea.
"Joining these military exercises will be beneficial to improving the Chinese navy's ability to contend with non-traditional security threats," Wu Qian, a spokesman of China's Ministry of Defense, told a regular briefing.