Chi­nese navy of­fi­cers find value inUS visit

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE - By ZHAO LEI zhaolei@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Last week’s visit to the United States by of­fi­cers of the Chi­nese navy will deepen mu­tual un­der­stand­ing and help re­duce mis­un­der­stand­ings and mis­judg­ments at sea, del­e­ga­tion mem­bers told China Daily.

“In the past, when our ships met at sea, both of us — cap­tains from the two navies — didn’t know what the other side was think­ing or how we should com­mu­ni­cate with each other,” said Com­man­der Zhao Yan­quan, cap­tain of a mis­sile de­stroyer of the South Sea Fleet of the Peo­ple’s Lib­er­a­tion Army navy.

“Through the visit, we be­gan to get ac­quainted per­son­ally and shared our thoughts on many things,” Zhao said.

Twenty-nine navy of­fi­cers, two of them women, flew to Wash­ing­ton on Feb 1 for the start of a six-day ex­change pro­gram with their US coun­ter­parts.

“We found that no mat­ter which navy we serve, we have some com­mon prob­lems, such as long-time sep­a­ra­tion from chil­dren,” Zhao said.

“What is in­ter­est­ing is that we both thought our ship de­sign­ers should spend more time with sailors so they can avoid stupid de­signs,” he added.

The of­fi­cers vis­ited Wash­ing­ton; New­port, Rhode Is­land; and New York City.

They toured the US Naval Academy, Sur­face War­fare Of­fi­cers School and the Naval War Col­lege, and took part in seminars with trainees at the Sur­face War­fare Of­fi­cers School, ac­cord­ing to the PLA navy head­quar­ters.

Most of the Chi­nese of­fi­cers are young com­man­ders from the PLA navy’s com­bat units and have par­tic­i­pated in es­cort mis­sions in the Gulf of Aden or multi­na­tional naval events, the state­ment said, adding this is the first time the navy has sent a large del­e­ga­tion of front-line com­man­ders to an ex­change event with the US navy.

Dur­ing their dis­cus­sions, of­fi­cers from both sides ex­plored the ap­pli­ca­tion of the Code for Un­planned En­coun­ters at Sea, which was ap­proved by naval of­fi­cials from more than 20 Asi­aPa­cific coun­tries in April at a sym­po­sium in China.

The code is in­tended to head off ac­ci­dents and mis­com­mu­ni­ca­tion at sea to re­duce the pos­si­bil­ity of con­flict.

Last year, China and theUS con­ducted two joint ex­er­cises on the use of CUES.

“The visit aimed to strengthen re­la­tions be­tween younger of­fi­cers of the two navies, and to en­rich our of­fi­cers’ knowl­edge of theUS and its armed forces, es­pe­cially theUS navy,” said Se­nior Cap­tain Zhang Jun­she, head of the del­e­ga­tion and a se­nior re­searcher at the PLA Naval Mil­i­tary Stud­ies Re­search In­sti­tute.

Zhang noted: “We also hope the pro­gram will help im­prove our per­son­nel train­ing mech­a­nism.”

Zhang said mem­bers of the del­e­ga­tion came from de­stroy­ers, frigates, sub­marines, avi­a­tion units and the air­craft car­rier Liaon­ing.

“They have rich ex­pe­ri­ence as front-line com­man­ders,” he said. “Some of them have taken part in joint drills with the US navy,” Zhang said.

Com­man­der Justin Kubu, direc­tor of fleet di­vi­sion of­fi­cer and in­ter­na­tional train­ing at the Sur­face War­fare Of­fi­cers School, said: “This en­gage­ment pro­vided a unique op­por­tu­nity for cur­rent and prospec­tive com­mand­ing of­fi­cers from both na­tions to learn more about each other pro­fes­sion­ally. I feel the event was very pos­i­tive and aligned well with the con­tin­u­ing ef­fort to build mu­tual trust be­tween our two navies.”

Zhao, the Chi­nese mis­sile de­stroyer cap­tain, pointed out: “As an emerg­ing naval power, China can learn a lot from the US navy to see where we can im­prove. For in­stance, many del­e­ga­tion mem­bers, in­clud­ing me, were quite im­pressed by the US navy’s train­ing sys­tem for its large group of sea­soned in­struc­tors, who are for­mer front-line com­man­ders.”

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