Rear Adm. Eli Sharvit, commander of the Israel Navy’s Haifa Base, and Rear Adm. Yang Junfei, deputy commander of the PLA’s North China Sea. (IDF)
Tel Aviv — Three Chinese warships from the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) docked in Haifa Aug. 13 for a five-day visit here as guests of the Israel Navy.
Led by Rear Adm. Yang Junfei, deputy commander of the PLAN’s North China Sea Fleet, the Chinese contingent will tour multiple sites throughout the country in honor of the 20th anniversary of diplomatic ties between Jerusalem and Beijing.
Last month, Yang met with EU Naval Force (NAVFOR) Commander, Rear Adm. Jean-Baptiste Dupuis, aboard the French command and replenishment ship Marne, which was plying the waters of the Gulf of Aden. At the time of the July 17 visit, an EU NAVFOR spokesman noted the need for enhanced cooperation with the PLAN’s anti-piracy task force operating in the Gulf of Aden and off the coast of Somalia.
“The significant number of actors who are committed in counter-piracy makes regular contact essential [for] de-confliction ... and coordinated actions where appropriate to increase the effectiveness of the various navies present in the area,” according to the EU NAVFOR spokesman.
Israel has hinted at, but has not publicly acknowledged, anti-smuggling and counterterror operations around the Horn of Africa and into the Arabian Sea. In an interview last spring, Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz, Israel Defense Forces (IDF) chief of staff, told Israel’s Yediot Ahronot, “You almost won’t find a point in time that nothing is happening somewhere around the world.”
Gantz spent a week in China last May as guest of PLA Commander Gen. Chen Bindnge. It was the first visit by an IDF chief of staff since 1996 and was aimed to strengthen Sino-Israeli ties in light of Beijing’s growing interests in the Mediterranean and Arabian Gulf regions.