Escort Task Group of the Chinese Navy visits Cape Town
Girisha Naidoo pictured with Chinese Naval officers aboard the ship
By Girisha Naidoo, The Diplomatic Society's Roving Reporter
Three vessels comprising the 16th Escort Task Group of the Chinese Navy arrived in the Port of Cape Town on Tuesday morning 17 June 2014 on their last leg of a visit to eight African countries.
The ships making up the 16th Escort Task Group (ETG) consisted of the modern Type 054A missile frigate FFG-546 Yancheng, the Type 053H3 missile frigate FFG-527 Luoyang and the new Type 903 replenishment ship AOE-889 Taihu.
The Escort Task Group is visiting South Africa at the invitation of the South African Navy. Chinese Ambassador to South Africa, H.E. Mr. Tian Xuejun and Rear-Admiral Higgs, Chief of Naval Staff at the SA Navy welcomed the Commanding Officer of the Escort Task Group, Senior Captain Li Pengcheng (Deputy Chief of Staff of the North Sea Fleet of PLA Navy).
The 16th ETG set sail on November 30, 2013, from Qingdao and arrived in the Gulf of Aden on December 22 on a mission to protect and escort merchant ships in pirate-infested waters of the Gulf of Aden and the waters off Somalia. The Chinese PLA Navy has assigned 17 ETGs to perform these escort duties since December 2008, making an active contribution to the security of personnel and ships from China and abroad.
After completing the escort mission, the task group began its visit to Africa. The schedule included visits to Tunisia, Senegal, Cote d'Ivoire, Nigeria, Cameroon, Angola, Namibia and finally, South Africa.
Ambassador Tian Xuejun said that China and South Africa have enjoyed very close exchanges and cooperation in all areas including military exchanges.
“The Chinese naval ETG's visit to South Africa once again demonstrates the high-level political mutual trust between the two countries and vividly reflects the ever-growing friendly relationship and cooperation between our countries and militaries, as well as the ever-deepening friendship between our peoples,” said Ambassador Tian Xuejun.
The Escort Task Group will depart Cape Town on the afternoon of Friday June 20 for the return journey to China.