The naval fleet of the Chinese People's Liberation Army, composed of a missile destroyer named "Qingdao" and a comprehensive depot ship named "Taicang", arrived Thursday morning in Changi port of Singapore to start the 3-day visit.
This is also the first visit to Singapore called by PLA fleet.
On their arrival, the task group members were greeted by Chinese Ambassador to Singapore Zhang Jiuhuan, Deputy Commander of the Fleet of the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN), Tan kai Hoe, and other representatives from the RSN.
Speaking at a brief welcome ceremony at the port, Ding Yiping said that this is the first time that Chinese PLA Navy ships made a visit to Singapore and this is also a return visit to the two visits to China by RSN ships.
He said that the visit is aimed at deepening mutual understanding, boosting mutual trust, promoting mutual exchanges and strengthening friendship between the peoples and armies of China and Singapore.
During the visit, Ding will meet with defense leaders and high-ranking officers of Singapore, and sailors of the two sides will hold a number of exchange programs and sports competitions.
The task force will also invite representatives from the Singapore military as well as the public to visit the two Chinese naval ships.
The fleet will visit many countries including Singapore, Egypt, Turkey, Ukraine, Greece, Portugal, Brazil, Ecuador, and Peru, the first round-the-world voyage in Chinese Naval history.
Led by Ding Yiping, Commander of the North China Sea Fleet, the vessels will cross the Pacific, Indian and Atlantic Oceans.
The warships, which have over 500 crew members, were designed and made in China, and have already paid visits to foreign countries.
Experts say that the naval vessels, symbolizing a nation's naval power and industrial strength, are increasingly shouldering the task of promoting contact with the military of other nations.
The exchange of visits between naval vessels, dubbed as " handshaking between oceans," has become one of the most dynamic ways to promote international military contact. As China continues to open itself to the outside world, the transparency of its navy has also increased.
Other PLA naval vessels have, during their 15 goodwill voyages overseas in recent years, called at more than 30 ports in over 20 countries, including the United States, Russia, Canada and Australia. They reached the continent of Africa in 2000 and Europe in 2001. A PLA fleet ended its first tour of the Republic of Korea (ROK) early this month and called at ports of Pakistan and India not long ago.
PLA naval fleet voyages to other countries date back 1985 when a missile destroyer and a supply ship visited Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, marking the Chinese navy's debut in the international arena and opening up a new route of friendship on the Indian Ocean.
China's flotilla will continue promoting friendship with the rest of the world. They are expected to visit Britain, France and Australia successively later this year at the invitations of the above three countries.
(People's Daily May 24, 2002)