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Chinese Navy Leaves for Friendly Tour to US

Two Chinese naval vessels left Qingdao recently for the United States, where they will visit Pearl Harbor in Hawaii and the Naval Station Everett in Washington.

This is the first visit to the United States by the Chinese Navy since NATO bombed the Chinese embassy in Belgrade in May 1999.

"It is part of a series of goodwill cruises between the two countries," said a spokesman for the Chinese Defence Ministry, noting that some courtesy calls between the military of both sides will be held during the visit.

The participating ships are Qingdao DDG-113, a Luhu-class guided-missile destroyer, and Taicang AOR 575, a Fuqing-class oiler. The two vessels will visit Pearl Harbor from September 5-8, and will stop in Everett, Washington, from September 15-18.

The senior People's Liberation Army (Navy) representative on board is Rear Admiral Lu Fangqiu, chief of staff of the North Sea Fleet.

The US-China relationship is of great importance to the long-term political, military, and economic interests of our nation, said the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defence of the US Pacific Fleet.

The visit follows the United States Navy guided-missile cruiser Chancellorsville's visit to Qingdao in East China's Shandong Province in August.

The two countries' navies are the two largest in the Asia-Pacific region. Interaction between them increases mutual understanding and confidence, the US source said.

During the visits, Chinese and US sailors will have the opportunity to interact and take tours of unrestricted areas of each other's ships.

The US Navy, in co-operation with China's People's Liberation Army, has scheduled a series of events and meetings to build mutual understanding of maritime safety, communications and search and rescue procedures.

The Chinese vessels will continue on to visit Canada in mid-September.

(The Dragon News Net 08/21/2000)

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