China's Xi urges closer naval ties amid regional tensions

In this photo released by Xinhua News Agency, Chinese President Xi Jinping reviews an honor guard before boarding the destroyer Xining at a pier in Qingdao, east China's Shandong Province, Tuesday, April 23, 2019. Xi urged closer ties between the world's navies on Tuesday, amid tensions over China's rapid expansion of its naval forces and forceful assertions of territorial claims in the South China Sea. (Li Gang/Xinhua via AP)

QINGDAO, China — Chinese President Xi Jinping urged closer ties among the world's navies on Tuesday, amid tensions over China's rapid expansion of its naval forces and forceful assertions of territorial claims in the South China Sea.

Xi's remarks came in an address to foreign naval officers attending a fleet review marking the 70th anniversary of the People's Liberation Army Navy, an event Beijing is using to showcase its growing ability to exert force far from its shores.

Following his speech, Xi boarded the destroyer Xining, one of China's most modern and capable warships, at the northern port of Qingdao to preside at the review, which also is to feature China's sole commissioned aircraft carrier, numerous other surface ships and submarines and a display of naval aviation.

State broadcaster CCTV showed Xi standing on deck in a heavy coat in thick fog as various ships and submarines sailed by, their officers and crew members wearing formal uniforms and giving salutes.

China's navy will "continue to strengthen exchanges and cooperation with foreign navies, actively shoulder its international responsibilities, safeguard the security of international waterways and provide more public goods for maritime security," Xi was quoted as saying by the official Xinhua News Agency.

"Holding high the banner of win-win cooperation, the Chinese military is committed to creating a security environment featuring equality, mutual trust, fairness and justice, joint participation and shared benefits," said Xi, who also heads China's armed forces.

Such rhetoric contrasts starkly with China's aggressive approach to its territorial claims in the South China Sea, where it has built military installations on man-made islands in the crucial waters, which are also claimed by several other nations.

China claims virtually the entire South China Sea, along with rights to its fisheries and seabed resources.

While Beijing says it upholds the rights to free navigation and overflight in the area, its forces have been accused of challenging or operating dangerously around military vessels and aircraft from other countries, including the United States, as well as harassing fishing vessels from the Philippines and others.

The Philippines earlier this month issued a rare public rebuke of large numbers of Chinese vessels near islands and islets occupied by the Philippines in the disputed waters, saying the Chinese presence was illegal.

The Philippine military has monitored more than 200 Chinese vessels from January to March in a disputed area named Sandy Cay near a Philippine-occupied island called Pag-asa by Filipinos.

U.S. freedom of navigation operations in which navy ships sail close to Chinese-held islands have been a particular source of friction, with China dispatching ships and aircraft to protest the foreign presence.

China is building naval vessels at a rate outpacing its rivals, including the U.S., and is also establishing a powerful coast guard to back up its territorial claims. Its first domestically built aircraft carrier is set to enter service — with more believed to be in the works — while its missile destroyers and nuclear attack submarines are equipped with increasingly lethal weaponry.

It has also ventured farther from shore than ever, and undertaken international missions including sending ships to patrol for pirates in the Gulf of Aden, evacuating civilians from war-torn Yemen and offering medical services in developing nations as far away as South America.

Tuesday's naval review included 32 Chinese vessels and 39 aircraft, along with 18 vessels from 13 foreign countries friendly to China.

One notable absence was the United States, which did not send a vessel, despite the arrival last week of the 7th Fleet flagship, the USS Blue Ridge, in the semi-autonomous territory of Hong Kong.

Must Read

China launches its 1st unmanned cargo spacecraft

Apr 20, 2017

China has launched its first unmanned cargo spacecraft on a mission to dock with the country's...

China's Xi says willing to help end rift with...

May 19, 2017

Chinese President Xi Jinping has said he's willing to help ties with South Korea return to a...

Computer wins 2nd game against Chinese go champion

May 25, 2017

A computer that plays go has won a second game against China's top player in a match authorities...

Foreign doctors deem ill Chinese Nobel laureate...

Jul 9, 2017

Two foreign specialists who visited Liu Xiaobo say the cancer-stricken Nobel Peace Prize laureate...

China criticizes British freedom of navigation...

Jul 31, 2017

China has criticized plans by Britain to send its new aircraft carriers on freedom of navigation...

Sign up now!

Advertisement

Latest News

Trending News

About Us

Asialogue holds a collection of past news for readers to understand what happened before these latest events.