Marine recruiters will begin flying to China on Friday to recruit members of the U.S. Navy, the Pentagon said on Friday.
The Navy will begin hiring sailors from the United States in the coming months to help it move forward with the development of a new warship, the Joint Strike Fighter, the Defense Department said.
The hiring of sailors from overseas has become an important part of the Navy’s efforts to boost its military readiness in the face of China’s growing assertiveness in the South China Sea.
China’s move to build a naval fleet in the disputed waters of the South and East China Seas, including reefs and islands in the region, has raised fears that China is attempting to challenge the United State’s security commitments in the East China Sea, a key trading and military chokepoint.
The US has been working with allies to develop the Joint Venture (JV), a $1.8 billion ship that would carry out maritime patrol and surveillance.
The ship would have a complement of more than 1,000 sailors, and is expected to be commissioned in 2019.
China, however, has repeatedly warned that it would veto any US naval vessels sailing in the sea.