Mon, Apr 22, 2019 - Page 1 News List

Indian, Australian ships in China for naval parade

Reuters, QINGDAO, China

The Incheon-class frigate ROKS Gyeonggi FFG-812 arrives at a port in Qingdao, China, yesterday to attend a parade tomorrow to mark the 70th anniversary of the Chinese navy.

Photo: EPA-EFE

Warships from India, Australia and several other nations yesterday arrived in the eastern Chinese port city of Qingdao to attend a naval parade, part of a goodwill visit as China extends the hand of friendship, despite regional tensions and suspicions.

China tomorrow is to mark 70 years since the founding of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy, where it is to show off new warships, including nuclear submarines and destroyers, at a major review in the waters off Qingdao.

China has said warships from about a dozen nations are also taking part — one diplomatic source with direct knowledge said it was 13 countries in total — and the PLA is putting its best foot forward to welcome them.

India, which has been at odds with China over their disputed land border and Beijing’s support for India’s regional rival Pakistan, has sent stealth guided-missile destroyer the INS Kolkata to take part, along with a supply ship.

“We bring to you one of the best ships that we have made. It is the pride of the nation and the navy, and we are very happy to be here,” Indian Captain Aditya Hara told reporters on the dockside after disembarking from the ship in Qingdao.

A source familiar with the situation told reporters that the Kolkata had sailed through the Taiwan Strait to get to Qingdao.

“We headed on a direct route and we are very happy that we were facilitated by the PLA Navy and they ensured that we had a safe passage to Qingdao,” Hara said, when asked if they had sailed via the Taiwan Strait.

Australia, a close US ally, has sent the HMAS Melbourne guided-missile frigate to Qingdao, though officials declined to make the captain available for interview.

Japan has also sent a destroyer to Qingdao, in the first visit of a Japanese navy ship to China since 2011, Japanese media reported.

The other countries taking part include China’s close friend Russia, and three countries which have sparred with China over competing claims in the disputed South China Sea: Vietnam, Malaysia and the Philippines.

Pakistan, a close Chinese ally, is not on the list of countries that are sending ships to the parade.

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