Fleet open house 'educational'
The port call of China's first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, to Hong Kong is meant to showcase the country's emerging military strength and raise the city's faith in the central government, experts said, following the revelation of more details of the visit on Sunday. [Special coverage]
Aside from the Liaoning, the naval fleet includes guided-missile destroyers and frigates together with J-15 fighter jets and helicopters, Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy spokesperson Liang Yang said on Sunday.
The visit is part of celebrations to mark the 20th anniversary of the PLA deployment in the region, Liang said, without disclosing when the fleet will arrive or the length of its stay.
"The visit will show to the world the significant improvement in China's military, which is further strengthening its deterrence ability," Song Zhongping, a Beijing-based military expert who served in the Second Artillery Corps of the People's Liberation Army (now the PLA Rocket Force), told the Global Times.
"It will also give Hong Kong people more faith and trust in the central government. In the past, only US aircraft carriers visited the region, but now people can see China's home-made aircraft carrier," Song said.
Officers and soldiers will attend various exchange activities with Hong Kong residents and the PLA Garrison in the HKSAR, and the warships will be open to the public, Liang said.
The visit will help increase Hong Kong residents' understanding of achievements made in national defense and military building, especially for the navy, Liang added.
Hong Kong residents will get to know more about the country's military achievements and defense development during the visit, which is likely to give the PLA a good image and further inspire Hong Kong's patriotic passion, Liang said.
Song also pointed out that the J-20 was not included as Hong Kong is a port city, which is more suitable for ships.
"Because Hong Kong is a city of rival military intelligence activity, it is safer, especially at such a critical moment, for the J-20 not to fly there for the celebrations," Song stressed.
Meanwhile, China's first self-designed training vessel, the Yukun, is also visiting Hong Kong from Saturday to Tuesday. More than 500 activities have been held in Hong Kong since January to celebrate the 20th anniversary of its return to China.
More than 530 activities will be held to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong's return to the motherland from January to December, according to the Hong Kong Celebrations Association during a press conference held in May in Hong Kong, the Xinhua News Agency reported.