The Chinese Naval Ship Formation's First Global Navigation composed of the Qingdao Missile Destroyer and the Taicang Comprehensive Supply Ship, under the leadership of Lieutenant General Ding Yiping, commander of the Beihai Fleet and commander-in-chief of the Formation, returned to Qingdao at 9:00 a.m. September 23, bringing with them the friendship of the people and armies of 10 countries on five continents.
By far, this is the first time that the name of "China" was engraved forever in the history of global navigation in the world, thus the 506 officers and soldiers have fulfilled the thousand-year-old dream of the Chinese nation with their own deeds. When the naval ships arrived at the ports, more than 2,000 people, including leaders of the headquarters and the navy and officers and men of the fleet, their families and local leaders and residents held a grand welcoming ceremony, greeting the triumphal return of the Formation's officers and soldiers.
With approval from the Central Military Commission, the Chinese Naval Ship Formation set sails from Qingdao on May 15 this year, starting their long voyage to 10 ports in 10 countries -- Singapore, Egypt, Turkey, Ukraine, Greece, Portugal, Brazil, Ecuador, Peru, and Papeete, dependence of France.
The global navigation journey is a major military diplomatic activity of milestone significance in the history of the People's Navy and a symbol of the growing overall national strength of China as expressed in the development of the national economy, science and technology, it concerns the reputation of our Party, state and nation as well as the image of the people's armed forces and the long-term construction of the Navy, it has thus attracted the concern of the country and focused the attention of the world.
Among the 10 ports the Formation visited, except for Callao of Peru, all the other nine were ports the Chinese Naval Ship Formation visited for the first time. During the visits, the Chinese Naval Ship Formation was warmly welcomed wherever they went.
The warm welcome extended to them wherever they went has enabled the officers and men to deeply feel the glory and pride brought on them by the strength and prosperity of the motherland and the navy. The Formation was given high attention and exceptional reception by the leaders of the countries and governments and the military who, in turn, were invited to visit the Chinese naval ships.
During high-level exchanges, leaders of the Formation, on various occasions, praised the traditional friendly relations between the people of China and the host countries and publicized China's continual development and growth which is conducive to the defense of world peace and stability, they expressed their sincere desire to develop friendly contacts with the naval forces of various countries around the world, so that the various sectors, especially the military, have better understanding of and increase their trust in, the Chinese Navy. It is the general view of the ranking officers of foreign armed forces that the modernization degree of the Chinese naval vessels is much better than what they understood before, and that the level of management and maintenance of the naval ships and the qualities of officers and soldiers are first-rate in the world.
During the visits, the Formation actively engaged in exchanges between officers and men of China and those of the host countries. Chinese officers and men not only extended warm and friendly reception to their counterparts of the host countries on board to visit Chinese naval ships, they also went to visit the different types of naval ships of foreign countries and naval bases, marine corps, naval academies, training centers and other military installations, and conducted vocational exchanges with the specialized officers and soldiers of the navies at different levels in various countries. Through visits, they have learned useful knowledge and enhanced understanding and friendship.
In order to expand exchanges, the Formation, in each place they visited, actively performed Chinese military music as an expression of gratitude and organized and conducted various kinds of sport games. Through these activities, they displayed Chinese culture and the graceful bearing of the Chinese Navy, thus winning extensive praises. Using large plates, showcases and many other forms, the Formation displayed the excellent situation of the increasing prosperity of the motherland and the good look of the Chinese People's Navy, publicized the basic principles of "peaceful reunification, and one country, two systems", expressed the Chinese people's firm determination to realize reunification of the motherland, and sparked the patriotism of the broad masses of Chinese nationals and their aspirations and national cohesion for the reunification of the motherland.
In each place the Formation visited, local Chinese newspapers published on the front page or devoted the whole page to reports on the situation about the visit of the Formation, Chinese nationals and foreigners of Chinese origin were immersed in a jubilant atmosphere as if they were spending festivals. They flaunted banners, clang gongs and beat drums, sang and danced to welcome the Formation. Many Chinese with their families came in a hurry from thousands of miles away, when they boarded the Chinese naval vessel and saw their Chinese dear ones, they were so excited that their eyes were glistening with tears.
In Greece, Chinese nationals organizations, like supporting the front in those years, came in a hurry to express greetings to their own army, they brought with them beverage, fruits and telephone cards, many Greek people on the site were deeply moved by the scene.
In Ecuador chambers of commerce of Chinese nationals and organizations sent in crabs, prawns, Chinese flowering quinces and bananas as gifts to express their profound feelings for the Chinese Navy.
In Peru, nearly 2,000 Chinese nationals gathered in harbors where they danced lion and dragon dances to greet the arrival of the Formation. After that, flaunting banners and shouting slogans, they came to see off the Formation in the dead of night, when they saw the Five-Star Red Flag fluttering high on the main topmast, they were so excited that they shouted "Long Live the Motherland!", "Long Live the Chinese Navy!", their eyes filled with tears, the scene was very touching.
The visit paid by the Chinese Naval Ship Formation whipped up an unprecedented "tide of China" and a "navy heat" in the place they visited. Local people vied with one another to swarm on to the harbor in order to get an early sight of the charm of the Chinese naval vessel. Those visiting the Chinese naval ship included elderly over 90 years old, babies in the arms of their mothers, pregnant women, the disabled as well as foreign friends and Chinese nationals.
With the gallant array of the ships and the troops, strict style and discipline, civilized and courteous manner, and thoughtful reception and service, the officers and soldiers of the Formation greeted guests from all directions. For instance, they repaired shoes for the aged, gave detailed explanations to youngsters thirsty for knowledge, gave performances for the waiting crowds, provided service for the handicapped and sent people to act as guides for those coming from afar on their visit.
In Ukraine, our officers and men enthusiastically received WWII veteran soldiers coming from afar. These veteran fighters regarded Chinese Navy as their dear ones. One of them, who had been working in northeast Chinese city Lushun during the 50s, brought with him his honorary certificate signed and issued by Mao Zedong in those years.
In Brazil, it was a bubbling, unprecedented, grand occasion at the harbor. The Brazilians who came to visit the Chinese naval ships queued up like a "long dragon," vying with one another to get on the ship, so the Formation could not but extend the visiting time again and again. Large numbers of visitors requested to have a group photo taken with Chinese sailors for a memento. A disabled person carried onto the naval ship by our soldier said with emotion, "This is the highest courteous reception I've ever been given in my life." A total of more than 30,000 people visited the naval ship in three days.
The Formation had given proper attention to the repair, maintenance and management of equipment throughout the whole process of visit. Confronted by the adverse circumstance of persistent high temperature, high salt and high moisture, and the grim challenge posed by navigating an unfamiliar region, the officers and soldiers still persisted in examining and repairing equipment on a daily and weekly basis, thus keeping weapons and equipment in good condition and neat array of the ship. The officers and soldiers of the Formation held fast to one conviction: Interests of the motherland stand above everything else, and responsibility is weightier than Mt. Tai. So, in order to fulfill the task of global navigation, the officers and soldiers, with no blame nor remorse, turned their loyalty to the Party, the motherland and the people into actual deed of overcoming all hardships and dangers, writing chapters about the glory of the Chinese Navy.
After 132-day navigation covering more than 33,000 nautical miles, the Formation has set a new record in the history of the People's Navy whose visit took the longest time, covered the farthest voyage, went through the broadest sea region and toured the most countries. It has thus made positive contribution to enhancing the friendly relations between people, army and navy of China and those of the host countries and to expanding the influence of the State and nation, and in displaying the graceful bearing of the Chinese army men and promoting reunification of the motherland and the defense of world peace.
(People's Daily September 29, 2002)