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Chinese, French navies hold maritime exercises
   Two Chinese naval warships and two French warships ended a joint maritime drill Tuesday afternoon offthe coast of Qingdao, a port city in east China's Shandong province.

    The two navies successfully conducted fleet formation changes, fleet formation, shipboard helicopter flying and landing at sea, replenishment exercises at sea, communications and search-and-rescue exercises in the one-day drill.

    China's guided missile destroyer "Harbin" and fuel tanker "Hongze Lake" as well as French anti-submarine-warfare destroyer "Latouche-Treville" and light frigate "Commandant Birot" played themain roles in the maritime exercises. Two shipboard helicopters also joined the drills.

    Ju Xinchun, captain of the destroyer Harbin, said the Chinese navy hoped to learn from the French navy experience in coordination skills in joint military exercises.

    The exercises, jointly directed by Zhang Panhong, chief of the general staff of the North China Sea Fleet of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy, and Louis De Contenson, navy commanderof the French Pacific Military Region, lasted about eight hours and involved about 700 seamen.

    Zhang said the joint drill would help enhance understanding andfriendship between the two navies.

    On the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the establishment of Sino-French diplomatic ties, the joint maritime exercises would play a role in enhancing understanding and promoting trust between the two navies so as to strengthen friendly cooperative relations between the two countries, said Alain Christienne, captain of the French destroyer "Latouche-Treville".

    The joint drill is so far the largest of this kind held by the Chinese and any foreign navy, sources with North China Sea Fleet of the PLA Navy said.

    The French warships left for Singapore after the maritime drillwith the Chinese navy. Enditem

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