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PLA Navy ships visit San Diego base

By Hezi Jiang in San Diego, California | China Daily | Updated: 2016-12-08 07:45

Three People's Liberation Army Navy vessels arrived in San Diego on Tuesday morning for a four-day visit to the Southern California city.

Sun peeked through the clouds as PLA Navy Rear Admirals Huang Xinjian and Wu Haihua walked off their vessel at the downtown B Street Pier. They were welcomed by US Rear Admiral James Bynum, Carrier Strike Group 9 commander, and Rear Admiral Yancy Lindsey, Navy Region Southwest commander.

Some 600 Chinese sailors, most of whom were setting foot on United States soil for the first time, are spending the next three days with their counterparts from the USS Cape St George. They were to tour each other's ships, mingle at two receptions and compete in basketball, soccer and ping-pong.

On the last day, the two navies will hold joint exercises at sea covering fleet communication, search and rescue and other areas.

"We hope you enjoy your visit to this beautiful city and each of you makes fond memories and begins new friendships during your stay," Bynum said in a welcome speech.

"I believe this visit will enhance the understanding and mutual trust between the front-line forces of our two navies," Huang said in his speech. "It will also lay a solid foundation for maintaining the peace and stability of the region and the world as a whole."

The PLA Navy Task Group 546, composed of the guided missile frigates Yancheng and Daqing and supply ship Taihu, set sail from Qingdao on Oct 18.

The group attended the ASEAN Defense Ministers' Meeting Plus Maritime Security Exercise in New Zealand, where it also participated in the celebration of the 75th anniversary of the founding of the Royal New Zealand Navy.

The ships, which then set sail for San Diego, will visit the Port of Victoria in Canada before heading back home.

The Yancheng and Daqing were to be open for visits by the US public on Wednesday.

Port calls have become an important part of the bilateral military-to-military exchange. This is the third time PLA ships have visited San Diego since 2014.

Lieutenant Julie Holland, Third Fleet public affairs officer, said visits between the navies of the two countries have become "more routine".

In August, the San Diego-based guided-missile destroyer USS Benfold made a five-day visit to Qingdao, where its 285 sailors played sports with their counterparts from China's North Sea Fleet and toured the Tsingtao Beer Museum.

 PLA Navy ships visit San Diego base

US Rear Admiral Yancy Lindsey, Navy Region Southwest commander, welcomes PLA Navy Rear Admiral Wu Haihua to San Diego on Tuesday, during the PLA Navy's four-day visit to California.Bill Wechter / Agence Francefresse

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