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The 26th Chinese Navy Escort Taskforce Arrives in Britain for a Goodwill Visit

(From left: Rear Admiral Wang Zhongcai, Rear Admiral Alex Burton, Ambassador Liu Xiaoming, Political Commissar Xu Siqing, Military Attaché Su Guanghui)

   On October 3, the 26th Chinese Navy Escort Taskforce arrived at Thames Quay, West India Docks, London, and began its 5-day good-will visit to Britain. At 10:00am, a grand welcoming ceremony was held by the Chinese Embassy in the UK and the British Royal Navy at the quay. Ambassador Liu Xiaoming, Madame Hu Pinghua, Military Attaché Major General Su Guanghui, and Rear Admiral Alex Burton, Commander of UK Maritime Forces, joined over 400 people including the representatives of British Armed Forces, Chinese-funded institutions, and overseas Chinese and students to greet the Chinese Navy fleet.

Ambassador Liu delivering a speech

   At the welcoming ceremony, Ambassador Liu extended his warm welcome to the Chinese Navy Escort Taskforce visiting the UK for the second time in three years. He pointed out that this first call of Chinese Navy fleet at Britain's capital has set a number of records, which are reflections of the ever closer military ties and strategic mutual trust between the two countries. Ambassador Liu noted that this year marks the 45th anniversary of Ambassadorial diplomatic ties between China and Britain, and it is also the 90th anniversary of the founding of the People's Liberation Army. This visit by the Chinese Navy fleet will leave its mark in the history of military-to-military exchanges and state-to-state relations between China and Britain, marking a new beginning of closer, friendly exchanges and cooperation between Chinese and British militaries, creating new impetus to sustain China-UK "Golden Era", and contributing to a world of lasting peace and common prosperity.

Rear Admiral Wang Zhongcai delivering a speech

   Rear Admiral Wang Zhongcai, Commander of the Escort Taskforce, said that Chinese Navy fleet has visited Britain for four times since 2000,  while British naval ships have called at Shanghai, Qingdao and other cities in China eight times, which shows the profound military-to-military friendship and goodwill to strengthen exchanges and cooperation. He is convinced that this visit will further deepen the mutual understanding, trust, friendship and cooperation between the two militaries.

Rear Admiral Alex Burton delivering a speech

   On behalf of Admiral Sir Philip Jones, the First Sea Lord of the British Royal Navy, Rear Admiral Alex Burton extended his warm welcome to the Chinese Navy Escort Taskforce. He said that amid global challenges such as piracy and natural disasters, it is particularly important for British and Chinese armed forces to strengthen cooperation to meet the challenges together. The visit of the Chinese Navy fleet is of historical significance and will further promote the friendly exchanges and cooperation between the two navies.


Ambassador Liu reviewing the guard of honour of the Escort Taskforce

   After the ceremony, Ambassador Liu boarded the ship accompanied by Commander Wang Zhongcai and reviewed the guard of honour of the Escort Taskforce. This was followed by a visit to the command room, the vertical launching system, the main armament system and depth charge rocket launchers. The Ambassador then held talks with Commander Wang Zhongcai, Political Commissar Xu Siqing and the captains. Commander Wang briefed the guests on the escort mission and various operations carried out by the Taskforce, stressing that all the officers and soldiers have maintained a high morale, and are looking forward to making new contribution to upholding national interests and to the military-to- military exchanges between China and Britain.

   Ambassador Liu talked about the development of China-UK relations, commended the officers and soldiers for their outstanding performance, and encouraged them to continue to show the good image of the Chinese Army as a force of valor, a force of iron discipline, and a force of peace in the following days and contribute more to China-UK "Golden Era".

Ambassador Liu touring around the warship

   On that evening, a deck reception was held by the Escort Taskforce. Nearly 300 people attended the reception, including Ambassador Liu Xiaoming, Madame Hu Pinghua, Military Attaché Su Guanghui and his wife, 12 senior British military officers led by Vice Admiral Benjamin Key, Fleet Commander of the Royal Navy, and Major General Giles Hill, Assistant Chief of the Defense Staff, and representatives of British political, military and social sectors, the diplomatic corps in the UK and Military Attachés and Chinese-funded institutions and overseas Chinese.


Ambassador Liu delivering a speech

   Ambassador Liu delivered a speech at the reception. In his speech, he pointed out that the 26th Chinese Navy Escort Taskforce has just fulfilled an escort mission, a mission to uphold peace, deepen friendship and expand cooperation, in the Gulf of Aden and off the coast of Somalia. Setting off from China in April, the Escort Taskforce has provided security escort to 64 Chinese and foreign vessels in 42 groups, handed over three suspected pirates, and had extensive contacts and exchanges with other naval forces including the EU Combined Task Force 465. During this call at London, the Escort Taskforce will hold a number of events including an open day and in-depth exchanges with their British counterparts and with the wider British public. The Ambassador said that recent years have seen frequent military exchanges at all levels and ever growing cooperation between Chinese and British militaries. The two militaries have worked together effectively in such fields as counter-terrorism, anti-piracy, disaster relief and so on, and had closer exchanges in professional skills and personnel training. He noted that, in the current complex and changing world, Chinese and British armed forces must work closely together, and it is the shared responsibility of the two militaries to safeguard world peace and stability for the benefit of the two countries and the rest of the world.

Rear Admiral Wang Zhongcai delivering a speech

   In his speech, Commander Wang Zhongcai said that this visit fully reflects the good momentum of the "Golden Era" of China-UK relations and the long-standing military-to-military friendship between the two countries, especially the two navies. He is convinced that this visit will facilitate the friendly cooperation between the two countries, especially the two militaries in an all-round way.

Vice Admiral Benjamin Key delivering a speech

   Vice Admiral Benjamin Key noted in his speech that the British Royal Navy attaches great importance to the friendly cooperation with Chinese Navy and feels greatly honoured to have the Chinese Navy Escort Taskforce in London. In recent years, the two militaries have cooperated effectively in anti-piracy, humanitarian relief and other fields, and have made positive contributions to safeguarding international and regional security. He believed that this visit would further enhance the mutual understanding between the two militaries and the joint and unremitting efforts of the two militaries to uphold world's security and prosperity.

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   The 26th Chinese Navy Escort Taskforce is composed of frigates Huanggang and Yangzhou and the replenishment ship Gaoyouhu. During the visit, senior British military officers and political officials will be invited to visit the ships and various events will be held on deck including an open day. The officers and soldiers of the two countries will also take part in a seminar on rescue and disaster relief, ship tours and a friendly football match.

Ambassador Liu and Rear Admiral Wang Zhongcai talking with Vice Admiral Benjamin Key


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