Spinning Chinese Ships in San Diego
September 23, 2006: A Chinese Luhu class destroyer (the Qingdao) recently visited the United States (the American naval base at San Diego, California), along with a supply ship. The Chinese press has pulled out all the stops for this trip. There was lots of favorable stories by the Chinese reporters, and bogus quotes from "Americans" about how efficient the Chinese ships and crews look. At the same time that the Chinese had ships in San Diego, so did the Taiwanese, but that wasn't mentioned in the stories sent back to China. The Taiwanese navy has been working with the U.S. navy for over half a century.
The Luhu class ships were built in the 1990s. There were supposed to be six of them, but China was not able to obtain the power plants for that many, so only two were completed. At 5,700 tons, the Luhus are smaller than U.S. destroyers, and less well armed and equipped. But the Luhus are among the most modern Chinese built warships in service. The Luhus are being used as testbeds for larger destroyers under construction. The destroyer sent to San Diego was cleaned up and the crew drilled on how to at least look sharp. Compared to American warships, Chinese are sloppy and poorly maintained. Thus the need for Chinese reporters on hand, equipped with a positive attitude. It's no secret about the differences between how the Americans and Chinese run their ships. But most Chinese prefer to believe a positive spin, and the government is making sure the folks back home get it.