China, US navy crews com­pete in matches

China Daily (Canada) - - CHINA - By ZHANG YUNBI zhangyunbi@chi­

Sports diplomacy has be­come a sig­na­ture dish on the mil­i­taryto-mil­i­tary menu of China and the United States.

As part of im­proved Sino-US mil­i­tary com­mu­ni­ca­tions, play­ers from the two navies en­joyed soc­cer, bas­ket­ball and tug-of-war matches on Thurs­day at Qing­dao, on China’s eastern coast.

The US teams came from the vis­it­ing US 7th Fleet flag­ship USS Blue Ridge, which an­chored at Qing­dao on Tues­day for a visit.

It was the sec­ond visit of the Blue Ridge to the city since 1998, but this time the Chi­nese mis­sile frigate Yancheng wel­comed it and es­corted it into port.

Of­fi­cers, sailors and soldiers from both sides planned to ex­change vis­its aboard the ships, hold­ing meet­ings for for­mal com­mu­ni­ca­tions, as well as a range of sports and cul­tural events.

In Hawaii in Septem­ber, soc­cer and bas­ket­ball games pro­vided recre­ation af­ter a PLA navy flotilla, com­pris­ing the mis­sile de­stroyer Qing­dao, mis­sile frigate Linyi and sup­ply ship Hongzehu, made a three- day visit to Pearl Har­bor.

At the con­clu­sion of Thurs­day’s visit, the Yancheng and Blue Ridge will con­duct a joint drill in wa­ters close to the city that will fea­ture search and res­cue as well as telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions co­op­er­a­tion.

On Mon­day af­ter­noon, Vice Ad­mi­ral Robert L. Thomas Jr., com­man­der of the US 7th Fleet, ar­rived at the coastal city and met with se­nior mem­bers of the Chi­nese navy’s North Sea Fleet.

De­fense au­thor­i­ties of the two ma­jor pow­ers have picked up speed with their com­mu­ni­ca­tion ef­forts through a range of co­op­er­a­tive events.

In July, four ships of the Peo­ple’s Lib­er­a­tion Army navy, with about 1,100 soldiers on board, par­tic­i­pated in the Rim of the Pa­cific drills, the world’s largest mar­itime ex­er­cise with par­tic­i­pants from many coun­tries.

The Blue Ridge has an in­ter­est­ing his­tory of sports diplomacy with China.

In June 2006, it vis­ited Shang­hai, and on the sec­ond day a bas­ket­ball game took place. Mil­i­tary bands from both sides also per­formed.

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