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Foreign ships at China naval review

CHINA has invited more than 30 countries - including the United States, Russia, India, Pakistan and Australia - to send ships and delegates to a massive naval review on April 23.

The procession, which will take place off the coast of Qingdao in Shandong Province, coincides with the 60th anniversary of the People's Liberation Army's naval forces and is part of the celebrations leading up to China's 60th National Day on October 1.

Twenty-eight countries have said they will send delegates to the event, and more than 40 foreign navy ships from 15 countries have confirmed their attendance at the fleet review, Xinhua news agency reported yesterday, quoting a PLA officer.

Among the foreign navy ships planning to take part in the procession, many have visited China before. Among them, the US missile destroyer Fitzgerald cooperated with the Chinese missile destroyer Zhanjiang and supply vessel Dongtinghu during a Sino-US joint maritime search-and-rescue exercise on November 19, 2006, in the South China Sea.

The French missile frigate Vendemiaire, which visited Shanghai in November 2007, is also coming.

And the Royal Australian Navy auxiliary oiler Success and two Royal New Zealand Navy ships that have visited Shanghai or Hong Kong in the past, will also be on hand.

The Indian navy will dispatch a small fleet comprising the missile destroyer Mumbai, the Ranvir and missile frigate Khanjar, as well as the supply ship Jyoti.

China will display its most advanced missile destroyers as well as a new-type of amphibious transport dock.

A liaison team for the celebration has started operations, while dredging at the Qingdao Olympic Sailing Center and the harbor city's old wharf are almost finished, providing dock space for the visiting warships.

The review will feature a procession and formations of warships, military band performances and war plane fly-overs. Naval seminars will also be held.

Hosting its first large-scale naval parade, China will implement strict security measures, including the use of divers from naval special forces and maritime police to ensure the safety of the docks and surrounding waters.

The PLA navy was founded on April 23, 1949, with nine warships and 17 boats obtained after a unit of the Kuomintang's second coastal defense fleet defected to the Communists.

Since the beginning of the new century, the navy has been striving to improve its capabilities for integrated offshore operations, strategic deterrence and strategic counterattacks and to gradually develop its capabilities for conducting cooperation in distant waters and countering non-traditional security threats, according to a white paper China issued on its national defense in January.

Through nearly six decades of development, a modern force for maritime operations has taken shape, consisting of combined arms with both nuclear and conventional capabilities, the white paper said.

Two navy destroyers and a supply ship left on December 26 for the Gulf of Aden and other waters off the Somali coast to protect merchant vessels against piracy. On Thursday, the navy deployed another task force consisting of two warships to relieve the two destroyers after a three-month escort mission in the region.


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