Hong Kong wel­comes the pride of the Navy

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE - By CAR­RIE QIU in Hong Kong car­rieqiu@chi­nadai­lyhk.com

With an en­thu­si­as­tic show of sup­port, Hong Kong peo­ple wel­comed the ar­rival of a Navy for­ma­tion in­clud­ing China’s first air­craft car­rier, the Liaon­ing, on Fri­day.

The visit cel­e­brated the 20th an­niver­sary of the Peo­ple’s Lib­er­a­tion Army be­ing sta­tioned in the Hong Kong Spe­cial Ad­min­is­tra­tive Re­gion.

The flotilla, open for pub­lic tours on Satur­day and Sun­day, is sched­uled to stay in the city un­til Tues­day. This is the first time that the Liaon­ing has been open to the pub­lic.

Com­ing through the south­ern part of Hong Kong around 7 am via the East Lamma Chan­nel, the 60,900-met­ric­ton ship an­chored south of Ts­ing Yi Is­land, since it is too big to sail into Vic­to­ria Har­bour.

Speak­ing at the wel­com­ing cer­e­mony at the PLA Hong Kong gar­ri­son’s Ngong Shuen Chau bar­racks on Fri­day morn­ing, Car­rie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, Hong Kong’s chief ex­ec­u­tive, ex­tended her grat­i­tude on be­half of the city’s 7.3 mil­lion peo­ple to the cen­tral gov­ern­ment for of­fer­ing the op­por­tu­nity to ex­pe­ri­ence the na­tion’s mil­i­tary de­vel­op­ments.

The ar­rival and open­ing of the ships showed “great care and sup­port” to Hong Kong by the cen­tral gov­ern­ment, said Lam.

“The Chi­nese Navy has not only made sig­nif­i­cant con­tri­bu­tions to the coun­try’s trade and ship­ping de­vel­op­ment, but also demon­strated the coun­try’s ca­pa­bil­ity and de­ter­mi­na­tion to main­tain peace and se­cu­rity in the re­gion and the world,” she said.

Not­ing that many Hong Kong peo­ple had lined up overnight for the op­por­tu­nity to visit the air­craft car­rier, Lam said she be­lieved the open­ing of the ship will al­low Hong Kong peo­ple to ex­pe­ri­ence the coun­try’s achieve­ments in de­fense, es­pe­cially mil­i­tary de­vel­op­ment, and en­hance their un­der­stand­ing of the coun­try and strengthen their na­tional iden­tity.

Pub­lic tours of the Liaon­ing will be avail­able on Satur­day and Sun­day to 2,000 Hong Kong per­ma­nent res­i­dents. An ad­di­tional 1,600 tick­ets went to var­i­ous so­cial groups in the city .

Upon ar­rival, Vice-Ad­mi­ral Ding Yi, deputy com­man­der of the Peo­ple’s Lib­er­a­tion Army Navy, thanked the SAR gov­ern­ment and Hong Kong peo­ple for the warm wel­come and in­ter­est in the air­craft car­rier.

He said the PLA Hong Kong gar­ri­son had ful­filled its du­ties to main­tain the SAR’s se­cu­rity and sta­bil­ity while Hong Kong un­der­went enor­mous changes in the past 20 years.

He em­pha­sized that the cen­tral gov­ern­ment has at­tached great sig­nif­i­cance to the visit. Ding also said he hoped the visit would fur­ther in­spire Hong Kong peo­ple’s love for the coun­try and the city, en­hanc­ing na­tional spirit.

About 1,500 guests at­tended the cer­e­mony.

Ac­com­pa­ny­ing the Liaon­ing are the mis­sile frigate Yan­tai, mis­sile de­stroy­ers Ji­nan and Yinchuan, and sev­eral J-15 fighter jets and he­li­copters. The area sur­round­ing the car­rier was made a no-fly zone from 7 am on Fri­day till 10:30 am on Tues­day.

Start­ing at dawn on Fri­day, res­i­dents along the city’s south­ern coasts waited to view the pride of the Navy. Peo­ple crowded near the wa­ter for a view of the ships. Many got the chance to pho­to­graph the flotilla from their bal­conies as the naval for­ma­tion passed.

ED­MOND TANG / CHINA DAILY

China's first air­craft car­rier, the Liaon­ing sails be­neath rain­bow as it en­ters Hong Kong on Fri­day

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