1st navy ship from Africa creates waves in China
By Li Xiaokun (China Daily)
Updated: 2008-10-20 07:12

SHANGHAI: The first warship from Africa to visit China has impressed many a Chinese.

South Africa's Spioenkop, one of the most modern warships in the world, reached Shanghai on Thursday, and will leave today morning to continue its journey to Asia.

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"African naval forces have developed fast in the past few years, and the Spioenkop represents their highest level. I've read about the frigate in military magazines several times, and longed to see it in reality," Feng Liang, a 25-year-old military fan said yesterday, when the ship was open to the public.

A navy officer managing the "open day" said about 3,000 people visited the ship Sunday, much more than the usual number that visits foreign warships.

"I think the modern infra-red stealth design is the key attraction," he said. "Besides, its attraction as the first African warship to visit China also drew the public," he said.

But what impressed naval soldier Li Yi the most was the South African crew's culture. "The two navies played a football match on Saturday. While the Chinese players waited quietly, the South African team entered the field, singing and dancing. It's so different the tropical culture its festive style attracts us very much."

For the South African guests, the four-day visit has been an unforgettable experience, too. Dineo Maleka, a post communications clerk, said she loved the location where the ship was anchored - in the most prosperous part of Huangpu River against the North Bund, full of beautiful old buildings. Across the river is the Oriental Pearl TV Tower, the symbol of modern Shanghai.

"I appreciate the Chinese government's considerate arrangement. It's lovely to see the modern part of Shanghai, and at the same time feel its history," she said.

Christopher Manig, captain of the Spioenkop, surveyed the Chinese frigate he visited along with the crew very minutely. "I was impressed that the ship was built in China, and that most of the system equipment on board were also made in China. The Chinese people must be proud of it," he said. The Spioenkop was built in Germany.

Yao Yunzhu, a senior expert in foreign military studies with the Academy of Military Sciences, said Spioenkop's is doubly important - ending 600 years of one-way visits between China and Africa and taking a tangible step in military communication.

The Spioenkop stopped in Singapore before visiting Shanghai. And from China, it will visit Malaysia, Vietnam, India and Mauritius.

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