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Third stop on Pacific goodwill tour

NUKUALOFA, Tonga (Matangi Tonga, Sept. 5, 2010) – Two Chinese warships arrived in Nuku'alofa on Friday, September 3 on a four-day courtesy call, highlighting a strengthening of diplomatic relations between Tonga and the People's Republic of China, in this first visit.

Visiting Rear Admiral Leng Zhenqing said the "Zhenghe" a training ship and the "Mianyang" a guided-missile frigate should strengthen cooperation and friendship between the two countries.

Tonga is the third stop for the Chinese Naval ships in an unprecedented goodwill tour to five Pacific Island countries that included Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu and Tonga. From Nuku'alofa the ships will visit New Zealand and Australia on the last leg of their tour.

Captain Fonokalafi welcomed the first visit of the PLA Navy ships to Tonga and thanked them for their ongoing military support that had in the past provided TDS with training, such as martial arts training and high level visits.

Admiral Leng Zhenqing said he also anticipated this visit would take the opportunity to exchange with the local people.

During the visit the TDS and China's PLA Navy will hold a professional exchange meeting focusing on law enforcement operations. At the same time PLA cadets and officers would also be visiting schools with their band and donate toys to a kindergarten.

The "Zhenghe" is the PLA Navy's first purpose built training ship for navy cadets. Designed for long distance voyage the ship has been fitted with weapon systems, air and surface radar, classrooms and can support training subjects ranging from navigation and communications.

The "Mianyang" is a guided missile frigate with over 2,000 tons and accommodates over 100 officers and crew.

The Chinese community in Tonga toured "Zhenghe" upon its arrival at the Queen Salote wharf, and on Saturday, September 4 the general public was invited to tour the ships.

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