Three Chinese Naval ships were given a rapturous welcome as they arrived in Portsmouth for a formal visit aimed at enhancing military understanding between the UK and China.
Chinese Ambassador Liu Xiaoming and hundreds of flag-waving UK-based Chinese residents welcomed the ships into the city’s Naval Base.
Heading the task group is the assault ship Chang Bai Shan, accompanied by the frigate Yun Cheng and the replenishment ship Chaohu.
The ships’ last port of call was Salalah in Oman and on leaving Portsmouth they will head for Kiel in Germany.
During the five-day visit senior officers from both Navies will discuss various maritime topics including recent counter-piracy operations across the Indian Ocean.
Rear Admiral Zhang Chuansha, commander of the task group, said: “Our visit to the UK is a good opportunity to enhance our understanding of each other.
It’s a great opportunity for our sailors to get exposure to local people and our counterparts in the British Navy.
“All sailors share something in common.
“We share the same sea, the same international obligations such as dealing with piracy.”
Ambassador Liu Xiaoming added: “This visit gives a flavour of the partnership between China and the UK.
“It is also good for the British public to understand the Chinese military and what is able to do.
“It has been seven years since our last visit.
“The world has changed and so has the reach of the Chinese Navy. We’ve carried out 48 missions in the Gulf region in that time and helped to protect 6,000 vessels.
“So we have a lot to talk about – there is a lot for the two navies to share. And this visit will go a long way to strengthening our relationship.”
Commodore Jeremy Rigby, Naval Base Commander, said: “We welcome our Chinese visitors to the operational home of the Royal Navy.
“As with our ship visits abroad, these events are not only of great diplomatic significance, but also very useful militarily given that we share similar global challenges including counter-piracy, preventing conflict, protecting our citizens overseas and supporting UN peacekeeping efforts.
“China, like us, relies on trade at sea for its prosperity and we work together around the world.
“The visit to Portsmouth is a really good way for us to talk, navy to navy, with like-minded sailors, sharing information on our operations.”
Crew members from all three vessels will be given tours of local attractions including HMS Victory, HMS Warrior and the Mary Rose and they’ll also be shown around the Royal Navy’s newest warship – Type 45 destroyer HMS Duncan.
The two nations will also compete in badminton and basketball matches at HMS Temeraire in Portsmouth – the Navy’s home of physical training.