Three Chinese warships arrived in Davao City on Sunday for a goodwill visit.
Chang Chun (DDG 150), a guided-missile destroyer; Jin Zhou (FFG 532), a guided-missile frigate; and Chao Hu (890), a replenishment ship from China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy Task Group 150 were warmly welcomed by military and local government officials of Davao City as they docked at Sasa Wharf at 12 noon, according to Lt. Jetmark Marcos, spokesman for the Philippine Navy’s Naval Forces Eastern Mindanao.
The flotilla is headed by Rear Admiral Shen Hao, the deputy commander of the East Sea Fleet of the PLA Navy and the concurrent commander of the PLA Navy Task Group 150.
Shen was welcomed by Rear Admiral Virme Torralba, commander of Naval Sea Systems Command; Capt. Ramil Roberto Enriquez, commander of the Naval Forces Eastern Mindanao; and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte.
Marcos said the Philippines’ BRP Nicolas Mahusay (PG 116) met the Chinese warships on Pakiputan Strait in Davao Gulf.
“They [warships]were escorted [to Sasa Wharf]to designated berthing places. And like our Filipino hospitality, they were welcomed by the Filipino community, particularly the people of Davao, they were among those who welcomed our visitors,” he added.
Marcos said around 300 cheered the visitors.
Arsenio Andolong, director of the Department of National Defense Public Affairs Service, said the Chinese ships berthed in Davao because the ports of Manila are congested.
“If they [Chinese Navy] express their intent to send more vessels on a goodwill visit to the Philippines in the future, we are ready to welcome them,” he added.
These visits, according to Andolong, are excellent confidence- building measures, “which will go a long way in fostering good relations between our peoples and reduce tensions in the West Philippines Sea [South China Sea].”
When asked if the Chinese warships’ visit indicates that the Philippines is parting ways with the United States, its long-time ally, Andolong said it does not.
“We are not veering away from the US but rather we are expanding our relations with our fellow nations in the global community. It is also part of the Philippine government’s pursuit of an independent foreign policy,” he pointed out.