The guided missile destroyer HMS Exeter and replenishment ship RFA Grey of the British Royal Navy arrived in Qingdao Thursday morning for a four-day visit to this port city and a joint military exercise with North Sea Fleet of the People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN).
China's guided missile destroyer Harbin guided the British fleet into Qingdao port, where the North Sea Fleet of PLAN held a welcome ceremony for the British fleet with 301 crew, headed by David Snelson, chief of staff of the war-time fleet of the British Royal Navy.
Zhao Yongqing, deputy chief of staff of the North Sea Fleet of PLAN said that exchange of visits by warships is a crucial channel for two countries' friendly exchanges. He expressed his belief that this visit by the British fleet will write a new chapter of friendly exchanges of the two navies.
Snelson said this is the second visit by Exeter to Qingdao.
It is significant for the two sides to hold the first joint maritime exercise, which is bound to promote friendly exchanges between the navies between China and Britain, he added.
During their visit in Qingdao, the British navy officers are expected to meet with Zhang Zhannan, commander of the North Sea Fleet of PLAN and other officials of Qingdao. In addition, the two sides will visit the warships of the other and held football matches.
The British fleet, which is on an eight-month trip to the Far East, has enjoyed trips to Madras of India, Singapore, Ho Chi Minh City of Vietnam, Hong Kong and Shanghai.
Military attachés to observe Sino-UK maritime exercises
China will, for the first time, invite 16 military attachés in China from 15 countries' naval forces to observe the Sino-British maritime exercises scheduled for Saturday, Chinese Defense Ministry sources said Thursday.
The guided missile destroyer HMS Exeter and replenishment ship RFA Grey of the British Royal Navy arrived in Qingdao Thursday morning for a four-day visit to the east China city, and a joint military exercise will be executed involving HMS Exeter and China's guided missile destroyer Harbin and replenishment ship Hongze Lake.
The exercises will include search and rescue operations as well as helicopter tactic maneuvers, and the two sides will be directed respectively by Zhang Panhong, chief of the general staff of the North Sea Fleet of the Chinese navy, and David Snelson, who commands the British navy fleet.
The Chinese navy had maritime exercises with the Pakistan and Indian navy forces in Shanghai last year and with the French navy in Qingdao in March this year. No military attaché of a third country was invited to observe these joint exercises.
A Chinese naval officer said inviting the foreign military attachés to observe Sino-British joint maritime exercises shows the new concept of China's military diplomacy against the backdrop of military reform with Chinese characteristics.
(Xinhua News Agency June 18, 2004)