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Liaoning carrier group sets sail from Hong Kong after a warm reception

By Carrie Qiu in Hong Kong | China Daily | Updated: 2017-07-12 07:22

Hong Kong residents waved goodbye to the country's first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, on Tuesday after it concluded a five-day goodwill visit marking the 20th anniversary of the People's Liberation Army being stationed in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.

The Liaoning departed from Hong Kong at 10:30 am after a farewell ceremony. It left via the East Lamma Channel, the same route it took on arrival, as it is too big to sail into Victoria Harbour.

The three vessels that accompanied the Liaoning - guided-missile frigate Yantai and guided-missile destroyers Jinan and Yinchuan - sailed across Victoria Harbour to salute the people of Hong Kong once more before leaving the SAR's waters.

The naval flotilla then sailed to a rendezvous at sea to continue with scheduled training activities. Some 700 people gathered at Stonecutters Island to wish the ships bon voyage on their journey.

Since the flotilla arrived on Friday, more than 4,000 residents were allowed to step aboard the aircraft carrier. The other three ships welcomed over 40,000 visitors. Thousands of Hong Kong residents had lined up overnight for tickets to visit the carrier.

Speaking at the farewell ceremony at the PLA Hong Kong Garrison's Ngong Shuen Chau Barracks on Tuesday morning, Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, the Hong Kong government's chief secretary for administration, said the visit of the PLA naval group provided a rare opportunity for residents, who he said were honored and excited.

He said crew members took time to interact with the residents, both aboard the ships and at an eldercare home, which enhanced the public's understanding of the country's achievements in defense.

Cheung reiterated the city's gratitude for the country's "care and support" for Hong Kong, as well as appreciation for the dedication of the soldiers and officers of the PLA Navy and the Hong Kong Garrison.

Before leaving, Vice-Admiral Ding Yi, deputy commander of the PLA Navy, expressed his thanks to Hong Kong's residents for their warm hospitality and wished Hong Kong a thriving and prosperous future.

Although the sailors were busy receiving public visitors, they managed to find time to visit a local eldercare home on Monday to raise awareness about the needs of the elderly.

They brought along a donation of HK$60,000 ($7,700), performed drills and sang and danced for the residents of the nursing home.

Tse Yuet-king, a 110-year-old resident, shed tears of joy as the officers interacted with her. Sitting next to Tse, Zhao Jinlu, the deputy political commissar of a warship accompanying the Liaoning, helped wipe away her tears.

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