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Chinese Navy Vessels Visit San Diego

By Seaman Damien E. Horvath, USN
Special to American Forces Press Service

SAN DIEGO, Sept. 20, 2006 – Two Chinese military ships are wrapping up a three-day port visit at Naval Base San Diego today.

The port visit by the ships Qingdao and Hongzehu, which began Sept. 18, provides an opportunity to enhance cooperation between the Chinese and U.S. navies, foster mutual understanding, and further develop lines of communication, Navy officials said.

“With this visit, China and the United States have an important opportunity to develop and build through our sailors' relationships for cooperation in maintaining a peaceful and stable region," said Rear Adm. Len Hering, commander of Navy Region Southwest. Hering officially welcomed the Chinese sailors to San Diego. "This is a longstanding role that navies play, and we are very proud to be a part of this process,” he said.

The Chinese navy presented a similar tone with banners displayed on the side of Qingdao with the words “Deepen Mutual Benefit Cooperation. Advance Development Together” written in both Chinese and English.

“We are proud to welcome our fellow sailors from China,” Capt. Dickson Smith, commander of Naval Base San Diego, said. “We truly hope that during their three-day visit, they can experience the warm and friendly atmosphere of the city of San Diego.”

Among the Chinese-American groups to greet the ships were representatives from the American Chinese Culture Association, the San Diego Chinese Association and the Golden Dragon Chinese Kung-fu Club. “We are so excited to have them here,” said Aoni Ma, a member of the Golden Dragon Chinese Kung-fu Club. “It is like our family has sailed many miles to see us, and we are overjoyed to be here on the pier to greet them.”

Navy Band Southwest, the Chinese navy band and Chinese lion dancers provided entertainment while the ships were being moored.

“We are two different countries and we have different customs, but it is great we could come together like this not only as sailors, but as people,” Petty Officer 3rd Class Anthony Seaman said. “I hope that everyone comes away with a deeper appreciation for each other.”

Other events planned for the visit include ship tours, a morale, welfare and recreation tour, and sporting events. Following the port visit, the ships will conduct part one of a bilateral search-and-rescue exercise, a routine training mission that will involve practicing procedures for locating and saving distressed vessels and personnel.

“My sailors and I are happy to be here,” said Chinese navy Rear Adm. Wang Fushan, deputy commander of the North Sea Fleet. “We have seen your professionalism, and it gives us great pleasure to be in San Diego. We were honored to receive this invitation from the United States.”

(Navy Seaman Damien E. Horvath is assigned to Fleet Public Affairs Center Pacific.)

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