China's navy celebrates 70th anniversary
China's navy on Tuesday celebrated 70 years since its creation with a large naval parade in the western port of Qingdao, showing off new military hardware that it hopes will bolster its global reach.
The parade featured 39 aircraft and 32 ships, including the Liaoning aircraft carrier and the Nanchang, the first of a new generation of Chinese-made guided missile destroyers. The first domestically produced aircraft carrier, known only as "Type 001A," was absent as it underwent sea trials.
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Eighteen warships from India, Japan, Vietnam, Australia and nine other countries also took part in the parade.
Onboard the Xining, a destroyer commissioned two years ago, President Xi Jinping told sailors, "Comrades, thanks for your hard work."
"Hail to you, chairman," they replied. "Serve the people."
Xi, who also heads the military, is overseeing a plan to modernize the People's Liberation Army (PLA). Under his leadership, China has alarmed its neighbors and the United States by beefing up its military presence in the South China Sea.
Earlier on Tuesday, Xi told foreign naval officers in Qingdao that the Chinese people longed for peace and would "unswervingly follow the path of peaceful development."
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"Everyone should respect each other, treat each other as equals, enhance mutual trust, strengthen maritime dialogue and exchanges, and deepen pragmatic cooperation between navies," he said.
US no show
The United States sent a low-level delegation to Qingdao but did not send any ships to take part in the parade.
The US Navy regularly sends its warships through the South China Sea to challenge what it sees as excessive Chinese claims in the area.
China opposes these so-called freedom of navigation exercises near its bases in the Paracels and Spratlys island chains, and Chinese vessels often shadow their US counterparts when they stray near to Chinese-claimed territory.
amp/sms (Reuters, dpa, AP)
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