|Puruvir Das, commander of the Indian frigate Shivalik, shakes hands with Qingdao garrison commander Wu Dongzhu at a welcoming ceremony in Qingdao, East China's Shandong province, April 20. A total of seven vessels arrived on Sunday morning ahead of the 14th annual meeting of the Western Pacific Naval Symposium (WPNS), which the PLA's navy is expected to launch on April 22. The vessels are set to participate in a joint drill on April 23 to celebrate the 65th anniversary of China's navy.(Peng Yining/China Daily)|
A total of seven vessels arrived at the port of Qingdao in East China's Shandong province on Sunday morning ahead of the 14th annual meeting of the Western Pacific Naval Symposium (WPNS), which the PLA's navy is expected to launch on Tuesday.
The vessels - from countries including India, Singapore and Brunei - are set to participate in a joint drill on Thursday to celebrate the 65th anniversary of China's navy.
Additionally, top naval officials from more than 20 countries are coming to Qingdao for the naval symposium, said PLA navy spokesman Liang Yang, during a press briefing on Sunday afternoon.
This is the first time that China has hosted the event, which was first held in 1987 as a forum where naval officers of Pacific countries can meet biennially to discuss initiatives to address regional and global maritime issues.
China is one of the founding countries of the WPNS, which has become one of the most important maritime cooperation mechanisms in the region.
"This is Brunei navy's first deployment to China. It is an honor to be here," said Willie Padan, commander of the Brunei patrol ship Darulehsan.
He also said the symposium gives Brunei an opportunity to engage with China and other countries in the Pacific region.
"Since we are a small country in terms of the population, we will absorb as much as we can to gain experience from bigger nations including China," he added.
Padan also said he was impressed when the Chinese hospital ship Peace Ark visited Brunei during its four-month cruise last year.
"She is a beautiful ship with world-class equipment. I appreciate the humanitarian service the PLA navy has given to Brunei and I am looking forward to more exchanges with China and other countries," he said.
The Indian frigate Shivalik – with nearly 300 crew members – was one of the vessels which sailed into the port on Sunday. "We traveled about 5000 miles to attend this meeting," said Puruvir Das, commander of Shivalik. "This is my first trip to Qingdao. Our officers and I are looking forward to interact with other officials and visit the city."
Das said navies from different countries should continue to strengthen their exchanges and improve cooperation.
"China has done an excellent work organizing this international event. I am looking forward to meeting fellow navies and learning from them," said Captain Rashid Zafar Cheema, commander of Pakistan's frigate Shamsheer. Pakistan was invited to attend as one of the three observers of the event.
"Our ship was built in Shanghai. Every time I sail in China I feel like I am sailing in my home waters," he also said.
Qingdao garrison commander Wu Dongzhu, received the vessels at the port, and told them that China welcomes all the participants to the WPNS, saying:"I wish them an enjoyable stay in the city, and a success symposium and drill."