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Japanese warship welcomed by Chinese amid warming ties
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"The Japanese navy developed well, and China should learn from them through exchanges. The navies of the two countries can draw lessons from the history and work together for further collaboration and development."

The destroyer arrived Tuesday, and the Chinese navy held a reception for the visitors that evening.

At the beginning, the military staff from the two sides were very prim. But after a few rounds of drinks, the atmosphere turned lively. In spite of the language barrier, many tried to talk to each other at the reception.

"I thought the Japanese military men were quite rigid, but actually they are lively people and are well educated," said navy officer Pan Lanbo, who works on the "Shenzhen" and visited Japan last November.

"I also think their weapons and management are very modernized."

The destroyer with 4,650 standard tonnage, set off from Hiroshima on voyage for a reciprocal visit; the Chinese missile destroyer "Shenzhen" docked in Japan late last year.

Tetsuya Hayashi, who works at the public affairs section of maritime staff office, Japanese ministry of defense, said he was happy to visit China. "I found Chinese people very friendly, and the liquor tastes good."

On Wednesday morning, Japanese unloaded disaster-relief goods including food, blankets, hygiene masks, disinfectant and other items they had brought for the quake area in southwest China.

However, Japanese media gave a low-key coverage to the warship's visit. Kyodo News Agency quoted Japan's Defense Minister Shigeru Ishiba as saying he didn't think the visit would remove completely all the barriers of the Sino-Japanese relationship. "A trustworthy relationship could not be set up in one single day."

And in crowded Internet chatrooms in China, the coming of the Japanese warship became a major topic of debate. A netizen from Wuhan in the central Hubei Province, said at the portal sina.com, "Japan did wrong to us before. But we can still learn from them now." Another from the central Henan Province call the visit a "historical breakthrough". He added "we should develop our country without losing our nation's integrity."

"The Japanese warship to China brings with it an aspiration for rebuilding trust and strengthening cooperation, but the aspiration is not enough. What we expect is substantial progress and mutually beneficial future for both peoples," said Che Hu, a senior editor of Beijing-based magazine Military World.

(Xinhua News Agency June 26, 2008)

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