Chinese naval escort fleet pays friendly visit to Philippines

MANILA (Xinhua) – A Chinese naval escort fleet, composed of three vessels, arrived in Manila yesterday for a five-day friendly visit to the Philippines, according to the Chinese Navy.

The visiting ships, including missile frigates Wuhu and Handan, and supply ship Dongpinghu docked yesterday morning at the Manila Port, making the last port call after completing their escort mission in the Gulf of Aden and the waters off Somalia.

This is the second visit by Chinese navy ships to the country since Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte came to power in 2016. The first visit took place in April 2017 in Davao city, the home city of Duterte in the southern Philippines.

“I believe the visit will enhance military to military exchanges and mutual trust, deepen friendship and strengthen cooperation between our two navies,” Commander of the 30th Escort Task Group of the Chinese Navy Rear Admiral Xu Haihua said upon arrival.

Deputy Commander of the Philippine Fleet Commodore Wilfredo Burgunio told Xinhua that he believes the visit will promote the relations between the navies. “We welcome this (visit). And we hope to have more engagements like this,” he said.

“The arrival of our Chinese Navy counterparts underscores the continuing efforts to further strengthen the relationship between our governments and navies. This will further enhance and sustain the promotion of peace, stability, and maritime cooperation through naval diplomacy,” he added.

The Chinese Navy will engage in a number of activities during their visit to the Philippines. They will pay courtesy calls to the Philippines’ senior navy officers, hold a shipboard reception, organise a tour aboard the ships, and take part in friendly games with their Philippine Navy counterparts.

A send-off ceremony will cap off the port visit on January 21.

Chinese guided-missile frigate Handan prepares to dock at the international port in Manila yesterday. – AFP