K J M VARMA
BEIJING: An Indian naval ship Sunday arrived at the Chinese port of Qingdao to take part in rare naval exercises with vessels from China, Pakistan and other nations.
INS Shivalik, an indigenously built stealth frigate has been invited by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy to take part in the event marking its 65th anniversary.
This is the Shivalik’s second visit to China as it had visited?Shanghai?last year along with three other Indian naval ships as part of a goodwill tour as the two countries attempt to build maritime cooperation.
An Indian naval ship also took part in the PLA Navy’s 60th?celebrations in 2009.
Significant feature of the Shivalik’s tour this year is that it takes part in joint naval exercises being organised by PLA Navy in which a naval ship from?Pakistan, besides vessels from?Bangladesh,?Singapore,?Brunei?and?Malaysia?and few other countries besides China are scheduled to take part.
A Pakistani naval destroyer was the first to arrive at Qingdao? port.
The naval exercises involve search and rescue besides joint communication and coordination.
The PLA Navy has cancelled an event involving a parade of the fleet in which President Xi Jinping, the head of the Chinese military, was scheduled to take part.
It was cancelled in view of the ongoing efforts to search for the Malaysian airliner which went missing with 239 passengers onboard, 153 of them Chinese nationals.
The US reportedly did not send any of its ships to take part in the event, while? China? has not invited?Japan.
A Chinese naval spokesman said the Japanese navy was not invited to due to “erroneous” policies of Japan’s leadership over the disputed islands in the East China Sea.
The US and? Japan? however would take part in the 21-member Western Pacific Naval Symposium (WPNS) being held on the sidelines. India, along with Bangladesh and Mexico are the observers in the event.
WPNS member countries include Australia,?Canada, Chile, France, Indonesia, Japan, Cambodia, Tonga, Malaysia, New Zealand, Brunei, Papua New Guinea, China, Peru, the Philippines, South Korea, ingapore,? Russia,? Vietnam, Thailand and the US.
The programme will last till April 24. —PTI