PLA naval fleet arrives for CamRanh port visit
China and Vietnam should expand military cooperation to a higher level and into more fields, analysts said after a PLA naval fleet began a five-day visit to a Vietnamese port.
Yin Zhuo, director of the People’s Liberation Army Navy’s Expert Consultation Committee, said there should be more meetings between high-ranking officers, as deeper understanding would boost political and diplomatic ties.
He said both countries could also send students to take part in exchanges to communicate theories and strategies.
“The two militaries are supportive of joint patrols in Beibu Bay by the China Coast Guard and Vietnam’s border defense force,” Yin said. “The two sides can open collaboration on anti-terrorism, crackdowns on cross-border crime and border security.
“A higher level of bilateral cooperation can also help strengthen military collaboration between China and other Southeast Asian nations.”
Li Jie at the PLA Naval Military Studies Research Institute said there are many areas in which the Chinese and Vietnamese navies can cooperate, such as combating piracy and in disaster relief. “Whether the two navies can enhance their cooperation depends on political decisions and the level of mutual trust,” he said.
The Chinese fleet arrived at Cam Ranh International Port in Khanh Hoa province on Saturday.
The 23rd PLA naval escort task force, which completed a mission in the Gulf of Aden in September, comprises two Type-054A frigates — CNS Xiangtan and CNS Zhoushan — and the Type-903A supply ship CNS Chaohu.
Vietnam is the last stop on the fleet’s journey home and comes after visits to Myanmar, Malaysia and Cambodia, Senior Captain Wang Hongli, the task force commander, told reporters at Cam Ranh.
“This visit will enhance mutual understanding and promote friendship, thus contributing to bilateral relations at government and military levels,” he said.
Chinese fleets have visited Vietnam several times since 2001. In January 2013, the 12th PLA naval escort task force docked at Ho Chi Minh City. However, this is the first time Chinese navy vessels have visited Cam Ranh Bay since it was opened as an international port in March.
According to Vietnam News Agency, the port serves military and civilian ships. Since opening, it has hosted military vessels from Russia, Japan and India. About three weeks ago, two United States Navy ships paid a visit, becoming the first US vessels to enter Cam Ranh Bay since the end of the Vietnam War.
Chinese Vietnamese wave flags at Cam Ranh International Port to welcome the Chinese naval fleet, which started a five-day visit on Saturday.