By Francis Wakefield
The Chinese Naval Task Group consisting of a pair of Type-054A guided-missile frigates, Wu Hu (Hull 539) and Han Dan (Hull 579) and replenishment ship, Dong Ping Hu (Hull 960), arrived Thursday at Pier 15, South Harbor, Manila for a four-day goodwill visit until Monday, January 21, 2019.
Captain Jonathan V. Zata, the Director of the Naval Public Affairs Office, said this is the second visit of China People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) ships since the incumbency of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte.
The first visit took place last April 30, 2017 at Sasa Wharf in Davao City.
At about 10 in the morning, Commodore Wilfredo F. Burgonio the Deputy Commander of the Philippine Fleet, the designated Flag Officer In Attendance of the Philippine Navy Chief, Vice Admiral Robert A Empedrad, accorded the visiting navy a welcome ceremony followed by a port briefing related to health and security aboard frigate WuHu.
This was also witnessed by members of the Filipino-Chinese community in welcoming the Chinese Navy contingent.
Rear Admiral Xu Haihua, Deputy Chief of Staff of North Sea Fleet, PLA Navy and the same time the Naval Task Group Commander, said in his speech that their visit has elevated the relationship between the Philippines and China.
“We have elevated our relationship to one of comprehensive strategic cooperation, opening a new chapter for China-Philippine relationship. I believe that we come here with peace, friendship and a better vision of common development and shared prosperity,” he said.
Meanwhile, Commo Burgonio said that the arrival of the Chinese Navy counterparts underscores the continuing efforts to further strengthen the relationship between our navies.
“This will further enhance and sustain the promotion of peace, stability, and maritime cooperation through naval diplomacy,” he said.
A courtesy call will be rendered on Friday to the Philippine Fleet Commander, Rear Adm. Danilo R. Rodelas, by Rear Adm. Xu Haihua and party. They will also call on the Flag Officer In Command, Vice Admiral Robert A Empedrad on January 19, 2019.
Like their previous visits, the PLA Navy will engage in a series of confidence building activities with their PN counterparts such as goodwill games followed by a boodle fight.