Three Chinese warships touring around the world is stopping over in Florida on Nov. 3 to 7, according to an announcement from the U.S. Navy. Officials say the stop over is meant as part of a routine goodwill port visit. The visit however by the three warships comes in the midst of heated tensions between US and China over South China Sea dispute.
The U.S. Navy said that the three warships belong to the People’s Liberation Army-Navy ships. The announcement however was elusive to identify the specific warships that will make a stop at Mayport. “Three vessels are on an around-the-world deployment and will conduct the goodwill visit after completing port calls in Europe. The amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) will serve as the host ship,” the announcement reads. In Mayport, the sailors will participate in sporting events and other activities, the announcement added.
The Navy explained that goodwill visits by ships from foreign navies promote trust and foster strong relationship between the participating countries. In fact Chinese Navy ship Zheng He visited Hawaii earlier this month, the department said.
According to sources who have spoken with USNI News, the Chinese warships are the Type 052C Luyang II-class guided-missile destroyer Jinan, the Type 054A Jiangkai II-class guided-missile frigate Yiyang 548 and the Type 903 Fuchi-class fleet oiler Qiandao Hu.
Officials are also wary about the stopover. A statement obtained by USNI News from Rep. Randy Forbes, from the chair of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces, said the U.S. has always cultivated military-to-military exchanges. However, “China’s behavior at sea has not tracked with its rhetoric of a ‘peaceful rise’,” Forbes stressed.
“Engagement like the upcoming Chinese visit to Mayport should not be done purely for engagement’s sake, and I hope that in addition to increased transparency, we start to see China moderate its other destabilizing activities,” the statement added.