Warship's visit signals Japan-China breakthrough

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The first Japanese warship to visit China since the Second World War docked in a southern Chinese port yesterday in a symbolic breakthrough in relations between East Asia’s two biggest powers.

The 4,650-tonne destroyer Sazanami pulled into Zhanjiang, a Chinese naval port in the southern province of Guangdong, with a cargo of relief supplies for victims of last month’s Sichuan earthquake. The Sazanami and its 240 crew will stay in China for five days as part of a ground-breaking military exchange that also involved a Chinese missile destroyer visiting Japan in November — the first Chinese ship to do so since 1891.

The crew of the Sazanami, including members of a musical band, delivered 300 blankets and 2,600 emergency food items, the first aid to be delivered to China by Japan’s armed forces, known as the Self-Defence Force. They will also participate in several choreographed “friendship” events, including a concert and a reception aboard ship for Chinese naval officers, according to China’s official media.

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