THREE Chinese ships were welcomed into Portsmouth to see relationships strengthen between China and the UK.
The warships arrived on Sunday and will spend a week at Portsmouth Naval Base while the Chinese ambassador and other navy officials see the city and meet with Royal Navy personnel.
Yesterday, hundreds of UK-based Chinese nationals went to Portsmouth Historic Dockyard to see the ships and have a tour onboard assault ship Chang Bai Shan.
They were also greeted by Chinese ambassador Liu Xiaoming and Rear-Admiral Zhang Chuanshu.
It is the first time since 2007 that Chinese warships have visited the UK.
Mr Xiaoming said: ‘I have looked forward to this visit which will strengthen the relationship between China and the UK.
‘It gives us the chance to compare notes, exchange information and share experiences.
‘Many things have changed since our last visit both in terms of war strategy and in terms of the warships in the Chinese navy. The visit was just a year before we started our anti-piracy missions of the coasts of Somalia. So this visit will allow us to share information and have a mutual strategic understanding.’
During their visit in Portsmouth, Chinese officials will meet the deputy Lord Mayor of Portsmouth, visit the Royal Navy warships and museums and crew members will see HMS Victory, HMS Warrior and the Mary Rose museum.
Rear-Admiral Chuanshu will also meet with Rear Admiral Robert Tarrant about anti-piracy.
Commodore Jeremy Rigby, commander of Portsmouth Naval Base, said the visit was important for the Royal Navy.
‘It is an opportunity for the Royal Navy and the Chinese to compare their notes on operations and to keep the door open for formal discussions at diplomatic and military levels,’ he said.
‘This visit is really important in the same way we send our warships to ports visits around the world to build confidence between key personnel and to be able to talk about difficult issues in an open and honest way.’
The three warships, Chang Bai Shan, frigate Yun Cheng and the replenishment ship Chaohu, will head for Kiel in Germany after their visit.