China Navy Vessel arrives
By Ngozi Egenuka
The Chinese Embassy, yesterday, stressed that the arrival of a naval fleet in Lagos on Sunday was a diplomatic move to strengthen ties between both countries.
Chinese Ambassador to Nigeria, Cui Jianchun, said the five-day visit is a milestone, adding that the Nigerian Navy had expressed commitment to work with China in tackling maritime security threats and maintaining stability in the Gulf of Guinea.
China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) armada was led by destroyer Nanning, an accompanying frigate, Sanya, along with a supply ship, Weishanhu.
A statement from media office of the Consulate in Lagos reads: “Chinese Naval Escort Task Group 162 will be on the visit between July 2 and July 6.
“As part of events that will end on Thursday, Ambassador Cui, CG Yan and other Nigerian and Chinese government officials will host a deck reception aboard the vessel on Tuesday in Apapa.
“This visit will be an important opportunity to promote cooperation between China and Nigeria’s military, enhance people-to-people contacts and upgrade the strategic partnership between China and Nigeria.”
Spokesperson for the Nigerian Navy (NN), Commodore Adedotun Ayo-Vaughan, noted that the two nations have a long-standing relationship, stating that the visit was to strengthen existing ties.
“The Navy is an instrument of diplomacy. Therefore, all navies in the world have a diplomatic responsibility to do what is called in naval parlance, flag-showing visits to foreign countries, where they have diplomatic and bilateral ties. The NN also does it, even though not very often because such visits from across two oceans are quite expensive due to the time and effort.
“So, it is not a strange thing that the Chinese are doing this port visit. Americans, Europeans, French and Spanish do it very often. Sometime last year, the European Union rejigged its standing relationship with the Gulf of Guinea (GOG) nations by bringing three of their ships, a Spanish ship, Italian ship and another ship.’’
“You recalled that last year, the Chinese gifted the Nigerian government a ship, which was handed over to the NN at our base in Apapa. Also there was some equipment that were handed over to the Nigerian Army, also from the Chinese government,” he explained.
Ayo-Vaughan added: “Between 2010 and 2012, Nigeria built two ships – offshore patrol vessels in China – and the good gesture was rewarded with the gift of a ship. And recently, we got another ship gift from China. So, the Chinese have a long-standing relationship with Nigeria. Hence, this visit of the Chinese MSL DESTROYER is a flag-showing visit. It will allow them to visit their embassy and places of interest in Lagos, exchange pleasantries, and play novelty matches with our sailors. It is a normal naval tradition.”
The Guardian Newspaper Nigeria