HELSINKI, Aug. 1 (Xinhua) -- A Chinese naval flotilla arrived in Helsinki, Finland early Tuesday after finishing its mission in the joint maneuvor with the Russian military in the Baltic Sea last week.
The formation, comprising missile destroyer Hefei, missile frigate Yuncheng and supply vessel Luomahu, was the first Chinese fleet that ever sailed to the region for a military exercise.
The Russia-China joint drill aimed to carry out rescue missions and safeguard maritime economic activities. It was the first phase of "Joint Sea 2017", which will also witness similar exercises in the Sea of Japan and Okhotsk later this year.
More than 500 Chinese living in Finland gathered at the harbor to greet the warships. Commander of the fleet Rear Admiral Yu Manjiang delivered a short speech to the audience. He said he hoped the three-day visit will broaden the exchanges and enhance the cooperation with the Finnish army.
After the speech, the greeting people had a chance to get on board missile frigate Yuncheng and communicate with the officers and sailors. The ship will be open to the Finnish public on Wednesday.
Finnish Defense Minister Jussi Niinisto said the Chinese navy is welcome to Finland. "We have friendly relations with China, and we do this kind of cooperation," he told Xinhua at a reception celebrating the 90th birthday of the Chinese Liberation Army.
Commenting on the Chinese effort to continue reducing the size of military staff, Niinisto said it is a good and friendly gesture to the world. He said Chinese army is still an impressive power, and "we want to have good relationship with the Chinese army."
Niinisto visited China in 2016, and hosted a visit by Chinese Defense Minister Chang Wanquan in 2015. "It is very useful for both of us to visit regulary because in that we learned more about each other," Niinisto said.