The Chinese ambassador to Britain has called for closer military ties between Beijing and the UK in a world that is “far from being peaceful”, as warships from China made their first visit to London.
Liu Xiaoming quoted Churchill during a speech to mark a historic visit he said would open a new chapter in relations between the country.
Two Chinese 54A frigates from the 26th Navy Task Force arrived in Docklands in the lower Thames as part of a European goodwill tour.
The Royal Navy said the the visit would include talks with Chinese officials over how the two countries could work together to tackle piracy and humanitarian crises.
Mr Liu said the arrival of the two 4,000 ton, 440ft-long frigates was also a sign of China’s commitment “to world peace”.
The visit came as Britain eyes post-Brexit trade deals with Beijing and as senior diplomats are trying to encourage the country to reign in North Korea.
Mr Liu said: “Today’s world is far from being peaceful. Regional conflict, terrorism, piracy, cross border crimes and refugee crisis are on the rise.
“To meet the challenges and uphold peace China proposes to build a community of shared future for mankind, calls for a new type of international relations.
“The Chinese military have been an active contributor to UN peacekeeping missions.
“Chinese peacekeepers have worked together with British military and armed forces of other countries to deal with global security challenges.
“They have made significant contribution towards peace and stability, they have proven to the world with their actions that the Chinese military is a strong force for world peace.”
He quoted Winston Churchill saying: “Continuous effort, not strength or intelligence, is the key to unlocking our potential.
“I believe the visit to Britain by the 26th Chinese Navy Escort Task Force will mark a new beginning of a closer, friendly change in cooperation between the Chinese and British militaries.”
The frigates Huanggang and Yangzhou have already been to Belgium, Holland and Denmark as part of a tour of European ports, and are due to sail to France on Saturday.”
The ships will host a series of meetings between senior naval officers over the course of the week.
Mr Liu said: “During this visit our two navies will hold the first humanitarian rescue symposium.
“All these are reflections of the ever closer military ties and strategic mutual trust between our two countries.
“During this visit our two navies will exchange views on a broad range of issues, from anti-piracy to humanitarian rescues.
“I believe such extensive engagement will deepen mutual trust and cooperation between our two militaries.”
A Royal Navy warship is expected to pay a return visit to China sometime next year while deployed to the Pacific.
Rear Admiral Alex Burton of the Royal Navy said the visit “reflects the long, strong and very common relationship that both our navies have with the sea”.
He said: “Many of the security challenges that we face are common to both of us, are common across the globe, from counter piracy to natural disasters, peacekeeping amongst many others.
“The need to work in partnership, as we have done for so many years, to find common solutions to these challenges, is rarely more important than it is today, and we both have much to learn over the next couple of days.”