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CHINESE NAVY: Chinese charm offensive

A Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) flotilla on an anti-piracy mission called at Malta in March for a five-day stopover ahead of further visits to ports in Algeria, Morocco, Portugal and France.

The ships, the Jiangkai II class Type 054A frigates Huangshan (570) and Hengyang (568) and naval tanker Qinghaihu (885), spent four months on patrol in the Gulf of Aden prior to making a rare foray into the Mediterranean. The goodwill visits to Europe and Africa come as it was confirmed that PLAN warships are to participate in the Rim of The Pacific (RIMPAC) for the first time.

The next multinational joint exercises will be held in 2014. The uneasy cooperation between the superpowers is likely to restrict Chinese involvement to navigational exercises, search and rescue, disaster relief and anti-piracy scenarios.

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