Updated 8:47 AM EST, Fri, Mar 05, 2021

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Chinese Naval Ships Start Friendly Visit to Over 20 Countries

A fleet of three Chinese naval ship left Shanghai on Sunday.

(Photo : Getty Images) A fleet of three Chinese naval ship left Shanghai on Sunday.

Three Chinese naval ships departed Shanghai on Sunday morning for a friendly visit to more than 20 countries.

The fleet including the missile destroyer Changchu, missile frigate Jingzhou, and supply ship Chaohu will tour Africa, Asia, Europe, and Oceania for about 180 days. According to Miao Hua, the political commissar of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy, the visit will convey friendship, strengthen military communication and cooperation, and portray a good image of the Chinese Navy.

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The overseas visit also aims to give the Navy a chance to learn on sea conditions and environments in various parts of the world to prepare the fleet's officers and sailors for future missions such as search and rescue, evacuation, and anti-piracy.

Based on the latest white paper about China's Military Strategy published by the Information Office of the State Council in 2015, the PLA Navy will be pivoting its focus from "near shore defense" to a combined strategy of "near shore defense" and "open seas protection." It also plans to build a multi-functional marine combat force structure.

China's military strategy for the Navy has changed as it aims to meet the demand of foreign trade expansion and the One Belt and One Road initiative. The Chinese Navy now focuses on protecting the nation's overseas interests.

"Today, the Navy has realized the strategic transformation to 'open seas protection,'" Zhang Junshe, a senior research fellow at the PLA Naval Military Studies Research Institute, said.

All three ships were reportedly made by China, and the visit marks Jingzhou's maiden voyage. The other two ships have previously carried out escorts, drills, and patrol missions.

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