U.S. 7th Fleet and People’s Liberation Army (Navy) staff members take part in a roundtable discussion in Shanghai. (U.S. Navy/MC2 Indra Bosko)

SHANGHAI - Senior staff from U.S. 7th Fleet and the People’s Republic of China, People's Liberation Army Navy (PLA(N)) met during several engagements and planned activities to strengthen communication, mutual understanding, and trust between the two navies, as part of the U.S. 7th Fleet flagship, USS Blue Ridge’s (LCC 19), port visit to Shanghai May 6-10.

During a PLA(N)-hosted roundtable held at Shanghai Naval Garrison Headquarters, both staffs discussed a wide range of maritime topics such as: freedom of navigation, command and control, and concerns about tensions in the South China Sea. The engagements focused on building trust and cooperation between both navies.

“It gives us the ability to meet our counterparts, to make relationships, and I think that’s so important,” said U.S. 7th Fleet Commander Vice Adm. Joseph Aucoin, who attended the roundtable.

Rear Adm. Wang Hai, deputy commander of the PLA(N), said the “navy to navy” relationship is an important aspect of “nation-to-nation relations,” while speaking during a reception aboard the USS Blue Ridge, May 7. “Through these engagements our U.S. colleagues have already got a better understanding of China and both our Sailors have made new friends,” Wang said.

Wang said both navies need to work together to promote the friendship between both peoples and militaries. “I believe our friendship will remain for a very long time,” he said.

Additionally during the port visit, Aucoin conducted an office call with Wang, and toured the PLA(N) Lanzhou destroyer CNS Xi’an (DDG 153).

Aucoin trumpeted the opportunity to grow the relationship between 7th Fleet and the PLA(N) during the port visit. “It will help us to work together closely and instill more trust, which I think is important in this time and age,” he said.

The U.S. 7th Fleet conducts forward-deployed naval operations in support of U.S. national interests in the Indo-Asia Pacific. As the U.S. Navy's largest numbered fleet, 7th Fleet interacts with 35 other maritime nations to build maritime partnerships that foster maritime security, promote stability and prevent conflict.