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Hong Kong welcomes the pride of the Navy

By CARRIE QIU | China Daily | Updated: 2017-07-08 07:23

Hong Kong welcomes the pride of the Navy

China's first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, sails beneath a rainbow as it enters Hong Kong on Friday. [EDMOND TANG/CHINA DAILY]

With an enthusiastic show of support, Hong Kong people welcomed the arrival of a Navy formation including China's first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, on Friday.

The visit celebrated the 20th anniversary of the People's Liberation Army being stationed in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.

The flotilla, open for public tours on Saturday and Sunday, is scheduled to stay in the city until Tuesday. This is the first time that the Liaoning has been open to the public.

Coming through the southern part of Hong Kong around 7 am via the East Lamma Channel, the 60,900-metric-ton ship anchored south of Tsing Yi Island, since it is too big to sail into Victoria Harbour.

Speaking at the welcoming ceremony at the PLA Hong Kong garrison's Ngong Shuen Chau barracks on Friday morning, Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, Hong Kong's chief executive, extended her gratitude on behalf of the city's 7.3 million people to the central government for offering the opportunity to experience the nation's military developments.

The arrival and opening of the ships showed "great care and support" to Hong Kong by the central government, said Lam.

"The Chinese Navy has not only made significant contributions to the country's trade and shipping development, but also demonstrated the country's capability and determination to maintain peace and security in the region and the world," she said.

Noting that many Hong Kong people had lined up overnight for the opportunity to visit the aircraft carrier, Lam said she believed the opening of the ship will allow Hong Kong people to experience the country's achievements in defense, especially military development, and enhance their understanding of the country and strengthen their national identity.

Public tours of the Liaoning will be available on Saturday and Sunday to 2,000 Hong Kong permanent residents. An additional 1,600 tickets went to various social groups in the city.

Upon arrival, Vice-Admiral Ding Yi, deputy commander of the People's Liberation Army Navy, thanked the SAR government and Hong Kong people for the warm welcome and interest in the aircraft carrier. He said the PLA Hong Kong garrison had fulfilled its duties to maintain the SAR's security and stability while Hong Kong underwent enormous changes in the past 20 years.

He emphasized that the central government has attached great significance to the visit. Ding also said he hoped the visit would further inspire Hong Kong people's love for the country and the city, enhancing national spirit.

About 1,500 guests attended the ceremony.

Accompanying the Liaoning are the missile frigate Yantai, missile destroyers Jinan and Yinchuan, and several J-15 fighter jets and helicopters. The area surrounding the carrier was made a no-fly zone from 7 am on Friday till 10:30 am on Tuesday.

Starting at dawn on Friday, residents along the city's southern coasts waited to view the pride of the Navy. People crowded near the water for a view of the ships. Many got the chance to photograph the flotilla from their balconies as the naval formation passed.

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