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Chinese, British Navies Hold Maritime Drill

A Chinese fleet and a British fleet left Qingdao port for a maritime exercise Sunday off the coast of Qingdao, a port city in east China's Shandong Province.

Guided missile destroyer Harbin, fuel tanker Hongze Lake of the North Sea Fleet of the People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) will join in the exercise with guided missile destroyer Exeter of British Royal Navy.

The first Sino-British maritime exercise in the nontraditional security field will be directed by Zhang Panhong, chief of the general staff of the North Sea Fleet of PLAN and David Snelson, chief-of-staff warfare to commander-in-chief of the fleet of British Royal Navy. Fifteen navy attaches to China from 15 countries invited for the first time by China will observe the whole exercise aboard destroyer Harbin.

The exercise is divided to three stages: Communication exercise; fleet order changing; and search-and-rescue, including light flashing, flag voices and helicopter tactic maneuvers.

Qian Lihua, deputy director of the Foreign Affairs Office of Chinese Ministry of National Defense, said this year is the fiftieth anniversary of establishment of the Sino-British diplomatic ties.

Premier Wen Jiabao's visit to Britain this year and the establishment of an all-round Sino-British strategic partnership has upgraded the Sino-British relations to a new level, he said.

He expressed his belief that the joint maritime exercise is bound to enhance mutual understanding and mutual trust between the two armed forces.

(Xinhua News Agency June 20, 2004)

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