Three Chinese warships dock in Garden Island naval base in Sydney on Monday. The Chinese navy fleet has begun a five-day friendly visit to Australia after completing a four-month escort mission in the Gulf of Aden and Somalia. The visit includes talks with Australian politicians and military officers about the Chinese navy's escort missions overseas, which aim to boost exchanges and understanding. Photo: AFP
Australian media overreacted to Chinese military personnel buying baby formula before leaving Sydney Harbor in their warship, Chinese military insiders said on Sunday.
Calling it a "stealth mission," The Australian wrote on Saturday that Chinese military personnel were loading boxes of baby formula on a warship when they visited the country last week.
The 31st Chinese naval escort taskforce - the Kunlunshan, Xuchang and Luomahu - ended their five-day visit to Australia on Friday.
More than 700 sailors visited Australia. An anonymous source told the Global Times that some 50 boxes of baby formula were on board, which were bought by some sailors in need. The source said it is an exaggeration to define the normal purchase a "stealth mission."
The hype over the baby formula purchase is similar to the hype over the "China threat theory" or exaggerating certain facts to mislead readers, another source said.
According to military insiders and personal experience of the Global Times reporter, it is normal for naval crew of different countries to visit local attractions and purchase local products when the warship berths in a foreign land.
The Global Times reporter has seen other foreign ship crews taste Tsingtao beer at a local bar in the coastal city of East China's Shandong Province and also buy gifts for their families.
It is natural for people from all countries to cherish family, love and friendship, as the crew members have been at sea for a long time. "As long as it does not violate the laws and regulations of the countries concerned, there is nothing wrong with it," said another source.
Chinese troops follow strict disciplines over purchases of foreign goods. Before landing the warships in a foreign country, the formation would ask crew members to strictly abide by the relevant laws and regulations of China and the countries being visited as well as local purchase limits. Their purchase must be for non-commercial purpose and the items will also be inspected.