Remarks by H.E. Ambassador Liu Xiaoming At Reception for Chinese Naval Escort Group
(Portsmouth, 12 January 2015)
It is such a great pleasure to join you all at the deck reception for the Chinese Navy fleet.
On behalf of the Chinese Embassy, may I first of all extend my very warm welcome to the 18th Escort Task Group of the Chinese Navy.
May I also express my heartfelt appreciation to the Royal Navy and the City of Portsmouth for their thoughtful and gracious arrangement.
The Chinese Navy ships calling at Portsmouth this time have just fulfilled an escort mission in the Gulf of Aden and off the coast of Somalia. The UK is the first stop in their five-country tour and their visit to the UK is the first by Chinese Navy ships in seven years.
The 18th Escort Task Group of the Chinese Navy gathered here can take great pride that they are a valiant force.
The Escort Group consists of amphibious transport dock Changbai Shan, missile frigate Yun Cheng and replenishment ship Chaohu. They are all part of China’s new generation of active main naval ships.
They represent the best of China’s naval equipment. They mark a historic leap of advance for the Chinese Navy.
This Escort Group consists of over 800 officers and sailors on board, including some one hundred members of the special task force.
They have stood the test of the vast Indian Ocean and accomplished their mission.
They have trained and tested their “blue sea” capability. They can take great pride from their performance as they have shown the true colors of the Chinese Navy.
It is important to understand that the Chinese Navy is a force for peace.
Since December 2008, the Chinese Navy has sent 19 Escort Task Groups successively to the Gulf of Aden and the waters near Somalia. They have all accomplished their missions with distinction and offered protection to nearly 6,000 ships.
The 18th Escort Group we are greeting here today set off from China on 1st August 2014. It has since offered protection to 135 Chinese and foreign ships in 48 groups. In all those operations, there was not a single accident or casualty.
Thanks in part to the efforts of the Chinese Navy ships, piracy in those waters is being effectively curbed and maritime security along that route is being safeguarded.
All these facts speak volumes about the role of the Chinese military. In addition to being the basic guarantor for China’s peaceful development, the Chinese military is also a staunch force in safeguarding world peace and regional stability.
The Chinese Navy is also a force for friendship.
While carrying out escort missions, successive Chinese Escort Groups always engaged in extensive exchanges with the naval forces of other countries, including the Royal Navy. This has helped deepen mutual understanding and trust among navies.
The escort missions were always followed up with good-will port calls in a number of countries. This has become the tradition since the second Escort Group. To date, Chinese Escort Groups have altogether visited nearly 50 countries.
Their visits have enhanced military-to-military exchange as well as bilateral relations between China and the relevant countries.
With its arrival at Portsmouth today, the 18th Chinese Escort Group is bringing with it the friendship of the Chinese people to the British people. It will also enhance the military-to-military links between our two countries.
I welcome the exchange and mutual learning between the Chinese Navy and the Royal Navy which has centuries of heritage.
I am confident it will surely lead to greater understanding and mutual trust between our navies. It will also give a strong push to the relations between our military forces.
As we are still celebrating the New Year, today’s port call launches China-UK relations into action in 2015. It signifies a good beginning for exchanges between our military forces. It heralds a great start for our bilateral relations as a whole in the coming year.
In a month’s time, Chinese around the world will be celebrating the Lunar New Year and ringing in the Year of the Ram.
The Ram in Chinese culture symbolizes fulfillment and satisfaction.
In this spirit of the Ram, I now invite you to raise your glasses and drink a toast,
To the fulfillment and success of the visit of the 18th Escort Task Group of the Chinese Navy!
To a better tomorrow for the relationship between our two countries and our two military forces!
And to a happy and prosperous Year of the Ram for each and everyone present!