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Colorful welcome greets Chinese warships in Kenya

Updated: 2014-01-03 19:55
By Liu Zhen in Nairobi ( chinadaily.com.cn)

With a flurry of flags and hundreds of well wishers, two warships of the 15th Chinese naval escort taskforce docked on Jan 2 at Mombasa, Kenya on the start of a four-day visit.

Hundreds of people, waving national flags, welcomed the ships, including Raychelle Omamo, Kenya's cabinet secretary for defense, Major General Ngewa Mukala, commander of the Kenyan navy, Ali Hassan Joho, Mombasa governor, Chinese Ambassador Liu Guangyuan, as well as local residents and Chinese nationals.

During a colorful welcoming ceremony, officials from the two nations expressed confidence that cooperation between the two countries would flourish.

"Military exchanges between Kenya and China have continued to increase," Omamo said.

"Kenya solidified this when it sent a military attaché to Beijing in 1998. I wish at this juncture, to also appreciate the continued support of the Chinese government in the ongoing modernization of the Kenyan defense forces. This venture will go a long way not only in improving the forces' ability to ensure security along the borders and on its waters but also enhance Kenya's role in peacekeeping activities in Africa and beyond."

Liu highlighted the parallels of history, with reference to the famous Chinese admiral, Zheng He and the peaceful aspect of the visit.

"Today, the visit to Mombasa by the Chinese navy escort fleet is of the same character as those of Zheng He's voyages 600 years ago. It is a journey of peace, friendship and cooperation. The fleet comes not only with China's solemn promise to safeguard world peace, but also with the sincere friendship of the Chinese people to the Kenyan people.

"The visit is also a part of the celebrations marking the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and Kenya."

This is the first Chinese navy escort fleet to visit Kenya since China started its missions in Somali waters at the end of 2008.

The taskforce is composed of two ships, Jing Gangshan Landing Platform Dock 999 and Heng Shui Frigate 572.

It has just successfully completed escort missions in the Gulf of Aden and Somali waters and is returning to China.

Jiang Zhonghua, commander of the taskforce, said: "In the past four months, this glorious fleet has escorted 181 ships from countries all over the world, with a success rate of 100 percent. The members of crew have safeguarded the security and openness of the sea route for trade in Somali waters. This is a profound interpretation of China's image as a responsible power."