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Chinese ships pay visit to Philippines

By Zhang Zhihao | China Daily | Updated: 2017-05-02 07:15

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte visited Chinese warships docked in his hometown on Monday, Xinhua News Agency reported.

Duterte boarded the guided missile destroyer Changchun, which arrived with two other vessels in Davao city on Mindanao island on Sunday for a three-day goodwill visit.

Duterte said he is open to the idea of conducting joint military exercises with China. "I agree (to the idea). They can have joint exercises here in Mindanao, maybe in the Sulu Sea," Duterte told reporters after visiting the warship at the Davao city wharf.

Duterte said he was impressed by the warship. "It's all carpeted. It's so beautiful. Inside, it's like a luxury hotel," he said. "It's clean."

He said the visit to the warship was part of the confidence building and goodwill between Manila and Beijing.

"Goodwill games" of basketball and tugs-of-war were being staged between the Chinese sailors and their Filipino counterparts in Davao city, the Philippine Navy said in a statement.

This is the first visit of People's Liberation Army Navy ships since 2010, signaling greater mutual trust and reduced tensions in the South China Sea, officials and experts said.

The three vessels - the Changchun, the guided missile frigate Jingzhou and the supply ship Chaohu - fall under the command of Rear Admiral Shen Hao, the PLA Navy deputy commander of the East Sea Fleet, who led the flotilla.

The visit will strengthen the relationship between the Chinese and Philippine navies and contribute to the development of traditional friendship and ties between the two countries, said Admiral Miao Hua, the political commissar of the PLA Navy, who spoke on Sunday at the welcome ceremony. He led another Chinese delegation to the Philippines for a visit.

Sara Duterte, mayor of Davao city and the president's daughter, said on Sunday she hoped the visit would promote exchanges on maritime issues and cooperation between the two countries.

The trio of Chinese ships set sail from Shanghai on April 24 and will visit about 20 countries in Asia, Europe, Africa and Oceania on a 180-day voyage.

This is the longest goodwill visit with the greatest number of countries visited the PLA Navy has ever made, Xinhua reported.

The ships' visit to the Philippines came a day after the meeting of the leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Manila.

Zhang Xuegang, a Southeast Asian studies expert at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, said the voyage would facilitate stronger trust between the two countries and further reduce tension in the South China Sea.

"The goodwill visit shows that China is willing to work with any ASEAN country to promote regional peace and security," Zhang said.


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