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Three Chinese warships have docked in Davao City, starting a three-day “goodwill visit” to President Rodrigo Duterte’s hometown, where it will stage “confidence-building” activities between the Chinese and Philippines navies.
China’s destroyer Chang Chun, the frigate Jin Zhou and replenishment ship Chao Hu will stay docked at the Sasa Wharf in Davao City until Tuesday. Leading the Chinese naval delegation is Deputy Commander of the East Sea Fleet, Rear Admiral Shen Hao.
Philippines Navy officials staged a welcoming ceremony on arrival, and held a health and security briefing for the visitors. Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte is expected to personally visit the Chinese flotilla on Monday.
The visit is aimed at “expanding communication, promoting cooperation, and improving friendship” of the Philippines and Chinese navies, said Jetmark Marcos, public affairs office chief of the Philippines Naval Forces Eastern Mindanao (NFEM).
The Chinese, Marcos noted, seek to foster “camaraderie and mutual understanding” via “naval diplomacy,” that would include a “series of confidence-building engagements.”
In Pres Duterte’s hometown, a Chinese frigate, missile guided destroyer, and replenishment ship are now guests of honor of the Philippines. pic.twitter.com/AcOo4MSVVH
— Chiara Zambrano (@chiarazambrano) April 30, 2017
The “goodwill visit” is China’s first in over half a decade. The last time the Chinese navy paid a visit to the Philippines was in April 2010, under then president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
Despite territorial disputes over the Spratly island chain, Duterte has reached out to Beijing to mend relations since taking office in June. He earlier noted that he does not seek military confrontation with China and would welcome mutually beneficial cooperation in the area of military technology.