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(Commentary) China’s Naval Diplomacy: PLAN Ships Visit German Port of Hamburg

2015-01-21 08:32:19       source:The Diplomat

By Franz-Stefan Gady

January 21, 2015

"Three Chinese naval vessels-the 18th Chinese naval escort-with 800 sailors on board are visiting for the first time ever the German port of Hamburg as part of a European-wide naval diplomacy campaign. The amphibious landing ship Chang Baishan, the frigate Yun Cheng, and the supply ship Chao Hu received a warm welcome yesterday from a delegation of over 500 Chinese currently residing in Germany, including Chinese Ambassador to Germany Shi Mingde, representatives of Germany-based Chinese and overseas Chinese students, as well as German naval officers and sailors.

This is only the second time that the Chinese People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) has paid a visit to a German port and the first time that Chinese ships have docked in a German civilian port ever. In 2001, a Chinese squadron visited the German naval base of Wilhelmshaven. The current PLAN visit came at the initiative of the German Navy and the city of Hamburg, which jointly extended an invitation to the PLAN last year. According to the head of the German naval command Hamburg, Captain Michael Setzer, "The visit will foster mutual cultivation of friendly relations and international understanding." Setzer also remarked half-jokingly that the German Navy would not mind having some of the capabilities of the PLAN, alluding to the size of Chinese Navy-the second biggest navy in the world. Yet the German Navy still is superior quality-wise and Setzer added that "the Chinese can still learn something" from their German counterparts."

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