A flotilla of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) left the port of Qingdao Wednesday on its first global voyage, signifying another milestone in the navy's contact with the rest of the world.
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.
The flotilla which sailed off here Wednesday comprising the Qingdao missile destroyer and Taicang supply ship, are both Chinese made. The voyage will span the Pacific Ocean, Indian Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean.
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.
And the visit of the naval fleet demonstrates China's achievements in economic, scientific and defense fields and its rising status in the international community.
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.
(Xinhua News Agency May 16, 2002)