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Philippines. A Chinese ship on a “friendly” cruise around the region

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The largest training ship of the Chinese Navy, Qi Jiguang, sailed to the Philippines. It is the vessel’s last stop on a journey through the region described by Chinese media as “friendly,” Reuters reported. Previously, the ship visited Brunei, Vietnam and Thailand.

The gigantic training ship Qi Jiguang, described by Reuters as larger than a typical destroyer, left Brunei on Thursday for the Philippines. The vessel is making an approximately 40-day voyage across the Indo-Pacific region, with the Philippines as its final stop, the agency said. Previously, the ship was also in Vietnam and Thailand.

On the ship, named after a Chinese general from the Ming Dynasty who fought against Japanese pirates, there are 476 people – students and officers. The training includes navigation, anti-piracy and gunnery training, according to Chinese media, which described the vessel’s cruise around the region as “friendly”.

QijiguangLu Huaiqian / Zuma Press / Forum

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The cruise of the Chinese ship coincides with a period of heightened tension in the South China Sea region, which China considers almost all of its territory. This contradicts the claims of Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan to individual areas of the basin. In 2016, an international tribunal challenged China’s claims, but Beijing did not recognize the ruling.

The Philippines has recently strengthened military ties with the US. Joint maneuvers of the navies of both countries have recently ended. Washington and Manila recently reached an agreement under which the US military will have access to four additional military bases in the Philippines. Three of them are located on the island of Luzon near Taiwan, and one is in the province of Palawan near the disputed areas of the South China Sea. The media assessed that this would allow Washington to “close the arc” of allies surrounding China.

South China SeaPAP

Main photo source: Lu Huaiqian / Zuma Press / Forum



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