The crew of a Chinese warship sent a friendly greeting to Japanese sailors aboard a helicopter carrier they encountered in the South China Sea recently in what analysts said was a further sign, albeit superficial, of the warming ties between the two Asian giants.
The incident happened late last month when China’s Luyang-II class guided-missile destroyer Lanzhou spotted the Japanese vessel Kaga, Japan’s state broadcaster NHK said on Friday.
On seeing the other ship, the crew of the Lanzhou sent a radio message saying, “Good morning, glad to see you”, the report said.
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The sentiment was in stark contrast to that of a message sent in August by the People’s Liberation Army – China’s military – to the crew of a US Navy P-8A Poseidon reconnaissance plane flying over the Spratly Islands in the disputed waterway, which said simply, “leave immediately”.
The Lanzhou is a Luyang-II class guided-missile destroyer. Photo: Handout
“The encounter implies that the overall warming in Sino-Japanese relations meant the two countries’ militaries could get along with each other,” said Song Zhongping, a military commentator for Hong Kong’s Phoenix Television.
“[But] the Chinese navy only sent the friendly message because the Japanese warship wasn’t in a sensitive area and was not being in any way provocative.”