|Lion Dance welcomes the PLAN Zheng He 81|
Back in the Spring when the PLA training ship PLAN Zheng He 81 started out on its worldwide voyage there were ecstatic announcements from the PRC about a voyage of knowledge and friendship. As time and the voyage progressed it quickly became obvious that things were becoming more restrained. The announcements about where she was and her next Port-of-Call took two days to arrive in both the Peoples Daily and the PRC Government official notifications.
It has now come to light that many of the countries visited were less than enthusiastic that their local Chinese population were heavily involved, in some cases, with the visiting Chinese warship. The relationship triggered some investigations of the local Chinese in some of these same countries to find out just what was going on. Some even declined a visit from this naval training ship, in fact only Ecuador of all the South American countries allowed a Port Call. Now it appears the PLAN Zheng He 81 training ship has arrived in Tanjung Perak, Surabaya, Indonesia having left Tonga and called at Cairns, Australia on the way to crossing the Torres Strait, Arafura Sea and Java Sea. No prior notice appeared in the overseas Chinese Media about this passage or the Ports-of-Call.
Perhaps the PRC PLAN have realised that not that many people in most of these countries are really enthusiastic about being ruled by the Chinese. It is fine to go out on occasions for Chinese food and enjoy Chinese New Year but besides that there is not much attraction to be involved.
Add into the mix the current policies of the PRC Government in imposing their will, regardless of other opinions, on the South China Sea and East China Sea and the PRC have no doubt found that the "icing is off the cake". The Cadets and Petty Officers trained in PLAN Zheng He 81 will be highly experienced Officers having been through both Canals, all the principle Straits of the World and crossed each of its oceans. In one voyage they have accomplished what most of us have taken ten years to complete, and then if we were lucky on our longer voyages. These experienced Officers will form the nucleus of crews to mann the PRC vessels of its PLAN, Coastguard, and Ocean Surveillence Agency to impose the ocean policies of the PRC in its future expansion from the South China and East China Sea's.
One hopes that the various Naval Intelligence Services have been making due note of all this because, regardless of the results of the next United States Election in November 2012, in the not too distant future there is going to be a face off with the PRC over its ocean policy. Also in each country visited the PRC now has loyal contacts of the best type of intelligence - human intelligence.