Chinese naval ships visiting isles
The two vessels will dock at Pearl Harbor to participate in some joint exercises
On Labor Day six years ago, two ships from China -- the destroyer Qingdao and the oiler Taicang -- pulled into Pearl Harbor on their country's last "goodwill mission" to the United States.
A year later, relationships between the two superpowers fell apart when a Chinese F-8 jet fighter collided with a Navy EP-3 surveillance plane, forcing it to make an emergency landing on Hainan Island. The Navy crew was held for 11 days. The body of the Chinese pilot was never recovered from the South China Sea.
The Chinese missile destroyer Qingdao at a glance:
Length: 488 feet
Displacement: 4,800 tons
Speed: 32 knots
At noon today, the 10-year-old Chinese guided-missile destroyer Qingdao returns to Pearl Harbor for a four-day port visit as part of a "goodwill mission" that also will include stops either in San Diego or Long Beach; Victoria in Canada and Manila. Accompanying the 488-foot Chinese destroyer will be the oiler Hong Zehu.
The Chinese delegation will be led by Rear Adm. Wang Fushan, deputy commander of the North Sea Fleet. The Navy hopes that this visit will lead to more as both countries continue to learn about each other.
Since assuming command of all U.S. forces in the Pacific last year, Adm. William Fallon has pushed to increase bilateral military contacts, saying the two countries must understand each other to avoid miscalculation.
U.S. law limits access of the Chinese military to certain U.S. operational areas and requires the U.S. military to submit annual reports of its contacts with the People's Liberation Army. Fallon told the Associated Press in June that he would need to see "continued movement" from China before he suggests that Congress change the law. That would mean a "real, transparent, two-way relationship here," he said, "and not just us offering things. It needs to really be developed."
Fallon has visited China three times since taking command and has urged China to be more transparent about its military plans. He wants more Chinese officers to meet their U.S. counterparts and asked China to show the United States more of its capabilities.
Capt. Kevin Johnson, Pacific Fleet international plans and policy division head, said the Chinese destroyer also will be conducting communication exercises with the destroyer USS Chung-Hoon, which also will serve as Qingdao's host ship until it leaves on Saturday.
Chung-Hoon was chosen, Johnson said, because it was named after Rear Adm. Gordon Chung-Hoon, a Chinese-American flag officer born in the islands and awarded the Navy Cross and the Silver Star.
Once Qingdao leaves Pearl Harbor, it will steam to Southern California, where it will participate in a search-and-rescue exercise before it docks either at San Diego or Long Beach for another four-day visit.
Capt. Joseph Skinner, Pacific Command plans and policy division chief for the northeast Asian region, said the Chinese Navy has grown significantly in the past decade.
"China's Navy now has become a blue-water Navy. In 2004, they did their first around the world cruise. They are getting more and more large ships and they are getting to more ports and because of that they will have more interaction with more navies around the world," Skinner said.