The British Navy held an official ceremony Monday in this southern England port city to welcome the two Chinese naval ships and 530 Chinese sailors that arrived Britain on Sunday for a four-day goodwill visit.
The ceremony was held at 0930 GMT with a guard from the British navy's Ark Royal ship and the Band of British Royal Marine.
The British Naval Portsmouth Base Commander, Commodore Paul Boissier and Rear Admiral Wu Fuchun, the Chinese Chief of Staff of East Sea Fleet who headed the Chinese Flotilla to visit Britain, attended the ceremony.
The flotilla of the guided missile destroyer Shenzhen and the supply ship Feng Cang were escorted into the harbor by the British Navy frigate Richmond on Sunday morning and was greeted by hundreds of Chinese Embassy staff and other people of Chinese origin and a lion dance.
This visit is the first ever to Britain by warships of the People's Republic of China.
During their four-day stay, the Chinese sailors will take part in a ceremonial parade with sailors from the British naval ship Ark Royal, also in the presence of Commodore Paul Boissier and Rear Admiral Wu Fuchun.
The Chinese soldiers and their British counterparts are scheduled to hold a series of exchange activities, including football and basketball matches. The naval military band on board the Chinese ships will perform for the local people on Monday afternoon.
A British Navy staff told Xinhua that the visit will not be all work no play for the Chinese soldiers, who will also have chance to look round Portsmouth, the famous British port city in the history and also currently.
Britain is the second leg of the Chinese flotilla's four-nation Europe tour, which will also bring them to France and Italy. They came to Britain after ending their goodwill visit to Germany last Friday.
The Chinese ships' visit to Britain is a return visit by a British fleet's very successful visit to China last June.
This is the first time for Chinese naval ships to visit Europe.
(People's Daily 10/02/2001)