Chinese navy fleet arrives at Shuwaikh Port

Chinese officers from the 24th Chinese navy pose for a picture with Kuwaiti officials next to a Harbin destroyer. —KUNA

KUWAIT: A reception ceremony was held yesterday at Shuwaikh Port in the presence of the Chinese ambassador, fleet commander and a representative of the Kuwaiti armed forces for a Chinese naval fleet that arrived on a five-day friendly visit to Kuwait. The three Chinese navy vessels, which include a helicopter carrier, docked at Shuwaikh Port with 700 servicemen aboard. “The visit is part of a program to exchange military expertise between the two countries,” said Navy Squadron Commander Hazza Mutlaq Al-Alati.

He said Kuwait and China have a long history in various fields like politics, economy, culture and military, and Kuwait is proud it was the first country in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) that established diplomatic relations with China back in 1971. “Kuwait will have the chance to exchange experiences between the two navies through identifying maritime capabilities and modern technology used in our units. We also have an opportunity to conduct moves in Kuwait’s territorial waters and economic zone during the visit,” Alati said. He stressed that Kuwait’s navy is looking to strengthen and increase cooperation between the two navies at the operation and strategic level.

Second time
Chinese Ambassador Wang Di said that this is the second time for Chinese naval ships to pay an official visit to Kuwait, after an earlier visit five years ago. “We wish to improve relations between the two countries. During the visit, naval officers from the two countries will exchange views to enhance friendship and further learn from each other,” he said. “Chinese vessels have played an important role in keeping pirates at bay in the Gulf of Aden, which is where the three ships operated immediately prior to the tour. China’s growing military export business is seeking to establish a foothold in the Gulf states, which have some of the highest defense budgets in the world,” Wang added.

The guided-missile destroyer Harbin, the guided-missile frigate Handan and the comprehensive supply ship Dongpinghu, forming the 24th escort taskforce of the Chinese PLA Navy, embarked on their foreign port-call voyage after completing the mission of providing escort for merchant ships in the Gulf of Aden and the waters off the Somali coast. While China’s navy regularly tours the world and its ships patrol off the coasts of Yemen and Somalia as part of international anti-piracy operations, such visits to Gulf Arab states are rare. Kuwait is the last leg of the Chinese naval fleet’s visit to Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.
By Faten Omar

This article was published on 01/02/2017