The commander of the US Pacific Fleet began a visit to China Monday to meet with China's military officials and help plan a November 19 search-and-rescue exercise, the second half of a two-part operation that began in the US, AP reported. It is Admiral Gary Roughead's first visit to China since taking the post. "The thrust of our discussions will really be in how our navies can gain a better understanding of one another," he said, adding that he would like to find out "what the intent is" in recent expansion of the People's Liberation Army's (PLA) naval capacity, including an enlarged submarine fleet and ships that can operate far beyond China's shores. "I look forward to having discussions on what the vision is and perhaps what some of the operating doctrine might be," he said. The 2.3 million strong PLA, the world's largest, has been criticized for its lack of transparency about its military buildup. Its reported 2006 budget is US$35.3 billion, but analysts believe the true figure is several times higher.