Chinese and US naval vessels have conducted a joint anti-piracy exercise in the Gulf of Aden, officials said Tuesday, citing the drill as a sign of improving security ties.
The five-hour drill involved a Chinese missile frigate and a US guided missile destroyer, China's defence ministry said, according to Xinhua news agency.
US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, on a three-day visit to China, praised the joint exercise as evidence that military ties between the two powers were advancing.
"We noted that the United States and China just this week participated in a very successful counter-piracy exercise in the Gulf of Aden," Panetta said in a joint news conference with his Chinese counterpart, General Liang Guanglie.
"These exercises enhance the abilities of our navies to confront the common threat of piracy," he said.
Beijing lauded the drill as being "conducive to increasing mutual understanding and trust between the two navies and deepening bilateral cooperation in non-conventional security fields," Xinhua said.
China's historic competitors including Japan and the United States regularly take part in anti-piracy operations. The United States and China have only held limited exercises in the past focused on search and rescue operations.
Panetta announced Tuesday that the US Navy has invited China to take part in a major US-led naval exercise, known as RIMPAC, in 2014.