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Countdown begins for China's naval parade
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16:57, April 14, 2009

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On April 23, to mark the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy, China will hold a spectacular maritime parade. It will be the first national naval parade that China has showcased to the international community and is aimed at strengthening maritime security cooperation and building a harmonious maritime environment.

China has sent invitation letters to over 30 countries including the United States, Russia, India, Pakistan and Australia. By then, the number of naval vessels invited to take part in naval parade activities will have reached over 40, a large number of which will be "familiar faces" that have previously visited China.

Security arrangements will apply the "Olympic standard"

On April 23, the birthday of the Chinese Navy, a spectacular naval parade entitled the "Harmonious Ocean" will be held in Qingdao.

China has invited several countries to send naval vessels or delegations to participate in the event. Information such as the number of warships, models, berth schedules and number of delegates from relevant countries have entered the final confirmation stage. Naval convoys from some countries have left for or have arrived in formation in Qingdao.

Since it is the first time that China will have organized such a large-scale international naval parade, relevant parties in China have made careful deployment arrangements. Regarding security, the "Olympic Standard" will be adopted. Naval Special Forces including frogmen and the marine police patrol will be in charge of security in the parade port and its surrounding waters for the whole course of the parade.

Reporters learned that many countries are sending naval vessels that have visited China before to participate in the event because the vessels are familiar with the sea routes and the "familiar faces" of the vessels have previously established friendships with Chinese vessels.

For example, the Aegis-class guided missile destroyer the "USS Fitzgerald (DDG62)", a member of the US Seventh Fleet, has carried out the second stage of its maritime search and rescue drill. The drill was carried out jointly with Chinese guided missile destroyer "Zhanjiang" and supply ship "Dongtinghu" in the waters of South China Sea on November 19, 2006. French Floreal-class missile frigate "Vendemiaire (F734)" also visited Shanghai in November, 2007.

It has been quite common for foreign warships to be invited to participate in naval parades in recent years.

A trend has developed whereby foreign warships are invited to participate in naval parades. In turn, foreign warships attending naval parades also use the events as a chance to demonstrate the naval strength of their countries.

On October 7, 2008, in order to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the founding of its armed forces, South Korea held an international fleet review in Pusan, the largest port city of South Korea. Fifty warships and 30 aircraft from 12 countries, including the US, the UK, China, Russia and Japan, with a total of 10,000 seamen, participated in the fleet review and related military exercises. The biggest highlight of the fleet review was the public debut of South Korea's Aegis destroyer, King Sejong. The Aegis combat system is capable of simultaneously dealing with attacks from aircraft, ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, warships and submarines. To date, only a few countries, including the US, Japan, Spain and Norway, have Aegis combat systems.

On March 11 this year, navies from 12 countries - China, the USA, the UK, France, Australia, Japan, Pakistan, Bengal, Malaysia, Kuwait, Nigeria and Turkey - conducted a maritime military exercise called "Peace-09" on the Arabian Sea near Pakistan's southern Port of Karachi. A grand naval parade was held as part of the military exercise.

According to international practice, the activities of each country's warships during a naval parade are subject to certain regulations. Apart from essential navigation radars, all combat radars on warships cannot be switched on without permission, and gun muzzles cannot be moved at will.

All naval vessels are required to obey rules of the port of the host country when they are in port. When foreign crew members participate in official collective activities on land, they should dress in service uniforms, and despite a certain amount of diplomatic immunity, crew members are legally regarded as foreign nationals and they are bound by the local laws of the host country when they go ashore.

Large maritime parades in the history of the People's Republic of China

●In 1957, China's first grand naval parade was held at the Qingdao base.

On August 4, 1957, Premier Zhou Enlai, entrusted by Chairman Mao Zedong, inspected officers and soldiers at the Qingdao base, formerly known as the former North China Sea Fleet. The "Four Guardians" of the No.1 destroyer brigade — the Anshan (Side No.101), the Fushun (Side No.102), Changchun (Side No.103) and the Taiyuan (Side No.104) — took a leading role in the maritime parade. At that time, the four destroyers were major battleships with the largest tonnage and the strongest battle effectiveness in the PLA Navy.

●In 1995, the joint maneuver on the Yellow Sea marked a milestone in the transformation of China's maritime power.

On October 19, 1995, the PLA Navy's North China Sea Fleet conducted the largest maritime joint military exercise since the founding of China and a grand maritime parade in an area of the Yellow Sea. During the exercise, No.112 flagship, the Harbin, made a very significant debut. The Harbin is one of the first generation of large warships to have a blue-water naval capability in the PLA Navy. Its debut indicated that China is willing to and capable of establishing a maritime military force commensurate with its status and image as a superpower, instead of merely being satisfied with an unbalanced advantage formed by submarines in local sea areas.

By People's Daily Online

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