BEIJING, June 17 (Xinhuanet) -- Haixun 31, one of China's largest patrol ships, has left south China's Guangdong Province for a visit to Singapore. This is the first time China's maritime safety authorities have sent a patrol ship of this size to visit a foreign country.
China has sent its biggest civilian patrol ship across the South China Sea. The civilian sea patrol group, including the Haixun 31, left south China on Wednesday, and is due to reach Singapore next Thursday, after a journey of 2,600 kilometers. It will return to China after completing a six-day stay. Throughout its journey, it will carry out patrols of the waters being developed by China in the South China Sea. This includes monitoring shipping, carrying out surveys, inspecting oil wells and enforcing maritime security.
China is deploying the ship as Vietnam and the Philippines both lay claim to territory around the South China Sea. The Philippine Foreign Secretary says that China's deployment of large patrol ships are a reason for concern.
However, the Chinese Foreign Ministry says the visit is nothing out of the ordinary.
Hong Lei, Spokesman of Chinese Foreign Ministry, said, "It is a normal visit. I want to point out that China is committed to resolving the South China Sea disputes through one-on-one negotiations with other countries making claims, and to maintain peace and stability in the region along with all the other countries. China's stance hasn't and will not change."
It's been reported that Taiwan's navy is also set to conduct patrols in the South China Sea before the end of the month. A spokesman for the State Council's Taiwan Affairs Office, Yang Yi, says that China has indisputable sovereignty over the South China Sea islands and their surrounding waters. He also said that people from both sides of the Taiwan Strait have a shared responsibility to safeguard Chinese sovereignty in the region.