Manila: A Chinese spacecraft tracking ship has been granted permission by the Philippine government to dock in the country.
The 21,000 tonnes displacement vessel, Yuan Wang 3, docked in Davao City on Monday afternoon. It is the latest military vessel from another country to visit the Philippines. The Philippines in recent months, had permitted a number of Russian as well as Australian and Japanese warships to dock for a brief period.
The vessel is used mainly for tracking of satellites and ballistic missiles.
Previously, only vessels from the United States were known to dock in the country. The Philippines has a Visiting Forces Agreement with the US.
Philippine Navy spokesperson Cmdr. Jonathan Zata said the Yuan Wang 3 will leave the country on July 19.
“They are here for replenishment as granted by the diplomatic clearance issues by higher authorities. This is a routine ship visit similar to any other foreign ship wishing to call on our ports,” Zata was quoted by the state-run Philippine News Agency as saying.
Zata added that the ship visit was “routine.”
“Nothing unusual about the visit. We had Chinese warships calling on our ports in the past the same as with any other warships from other countries,” he added.
Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the presence of the Yuan Wang 3 in Davao City was for refurbishing.
Observers had aired alarm over the Philippine stops of the Chinese warship and military cargo aircraft in the Philippines,
A similar visit by a known warship in the past could have raised alarm or would not have been allowed by previous governments, but President Rodrigo Duterte had adopted a softer stance on dealing with other countries such as China and Russia.
He had also been sourcing weapons from non-western allies such as Russia and China, but these are limited in the meantime to small arms such as assault rifles and other firearms.
It may be recalled that the Philippines was forced to accept donations of rifles from China and Russia after the US Congress opposed an order by the country for 24,000 American made assault weapons.
The Philippines granted permission to the Chinese warship to dock despite a dispute between China and the country over the occupation and militarisation of Beijing of several islands in the South China Sea.