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The world arrives to celebrate Chinese navy

Seventeen naval vessels from 12 countries, including the US Navy's missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald and the Russian Navy's 11,370-tonne Vayag missile cruiser, have arrived at Qingdao for a week of activities celebrating the 60th birthday of the Chinese People's Liberation Army Navy.

Also in port ready to take part in activities entitled "Peaceful Ocean" are ships from other countries like Brazil, Canada, France, India, and Pakistan.

Qingdao is home to China's Northern Fleet and 21 ships from 14 nations will feature in an international fleet review on Thursday.

The 6,800-tonne USS Fitzgerald, a destroyer from the 7th Fleet, arrived at the port city in east China's Shandong Province yesterday afternoon.

It took three days for the ship, equipped with sophisticated Aegis missile defense system, to sail from its home port of Japan's Yokosuka.

Commander Richard Dromerhauser, the destroyer's commanding officer, said it was a great opportunity to share ideas, saying a face-to-face communication with Chinese counterparts would be "much better than simply reading about them."

"Interaction will benefit us, and we will participate and are looking forward to making new friends."

US Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Gary Roughead and the Commander of the 7th Fleet, Vice Admiral John Bird, will be flying to Qingdao to take part in the events.

Roughead, the highest-ranking US officer to visit China this year, said in Beijing yesterday that he believed the military-to-military relationship was important to the broad U.S-China relationship.

During talks with PLA Navy Commander Admiral Wu Shengli on Saturday, views had been exchanged on enhancing navy-to-navy cooperation and both navies' operations off the coast of Somalia, he said.

Roughead's last visit to China was in November 2006 when he was commander of the US Pacific Fleet.

Among other vessels that arrived at the port over the weekend were landing vessel Garcia D'avila of the Brazilian Navy, carrying 49 soldiers and officers, the sailing ship ARM Cuauhtemoc of the Mexican Navy, and the Pakistan Navy's destroyer Badr and supply ship Nasr.

The Cuauhtemoc was making its third visit to China after calling at Shanghai in 1990 and 2002.

The PLA Navy was formed 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 PLA.


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