Wed, Apr 24, 2019 - Page 6 News List

Chinese love peace, says Xi, as naval show starts

MARITIME PEACE?The Chinese president told foreign naval officers that everyone should respect each other, treat each other as equals and enhance mutual trust

Reuters, QINGDAO, China

Chinese President Xi Jinping reviews an honor guard before boarding the destroyer Xining at a pier in Qingdao, China, yesterday.

Photo: AP

The Chinese people love peace and countries should not threaten each other with the use of force, Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) said yesterday as he kicked off a large-scale naval parade marking 70 years since the founding of China’s People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN).

Meeting foreign naval officers in the eastern city of Qingdao, Xi said that the navies of the world should work together to protect maritime peace and order.

“The Chinese people love and long for peace, and will unswervingly follow the path of peaceful development,” Xi said, in remarks carried by Xinhua news agency.

“Everyone should respect each other, treat each other as equals, enhance mutual trust, strengthen maritime dialogue and exchanges, and deepen pragmatic cooperation between navies,” he added.

“There must be more discussions and consultations between countries, and there cannot be resorts to force or threats of force at the slightest pretext,” Xi said.

“All countries should adhere to equal consultations, improve crisis communication mechanisms, strengthen regional security cooperation, and promote the proper settlement of maritime-related disputes,” he added.

Xi then boarded the Chinese destroyer Xining, which was only commissioned two years ago, to view the parade under misty skies and intermittent rain, state TV reported.

China’s first domestically produced aircraft carrier, which is still unnamed and currently undergoing sea trials, was not present, although the aircraft carrier Liaoning was, the report added.

China’s last major naval parade was last year in the South China Sea, also overseen by Xi.

The parade featured 32 Chinese vessels and 39 aircraft, as well as warships from 13 foreign countries, including India, Japan, Vietnam and Australia.

A total of 61 countries have sent delegations to the event, which includes a naval symposium today and tomorrow.

The US has sent a low-level delegation to Qingdao, led by the naval attache at its Beijing embassy, and no ships.

However, the USS Blue Ridge, the command ship of the Japan-based US Seventh Fleet, is currently visiting Hong Kong, having arrived in the territory on Saturday.

A senior US naval official aboard the ship said that the Seventh Fleet would continue its extensive operations across the region, including freedom of navigation operations to challenge excessive maritime claims.

The official said that he believed an incident in September last year in which a Chinese destroyer sailed within 45m of the US destroyer USS Decatur was an isolated event and other routine interactions at sea with PLAN had proved more professional.

“My point to the PLAN is that I expect your teams and units to operate professionally and safely... Obey the rules of the road and follow good seamanship, and we will operate throughout the Indo-Asia-Pacific with no issues,” he said, speaking on condition of anonymity late on Monday.

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