A Japanese destroyer was a popular draw in the eastern Chinese city of Qingdao on Wednesday when its crew lowered the gangway for visitors as part of 70th anniversary celebrations for the People’s Liberation Army Navy. The Japanese Akizuki-class Suzutsuki destroyer was one of dozens of Chinese and foreign warships that took part in a naval parade off the city’s coast on Tuesday. It is also among those allowing the public on board over two days to give enthusiasts a closer look at vessels and equipment that were obscured by heavy mist during the parade. But even on closer inspection many Chinese visitors mistook the Suzutsuki for China’s Type 052D Xining guided-missile destroyer – the warship from which Chinese President Xi Jinping oversaw the parade – because both vessels have the same ship number. There was no confusion for Qingdao resident Bill Yang, who said the open days were a chance for China and Japan to learn more about each other. China puts a damper on navy’s 70th anniversary celebrations as it tries to allay fears over rising strength “China and Japan are close neighbours, but they don’t understand each other very well, with many Chinese basing their view of Japan on the bitterness of anti-Japanese history,” said Yang, an engineer from a state-owned enterprise. “I think a country can step forward and become strong when it focuses more on the future and doesn’t just look back … I love these kind of open days because it can help Chinese people understand the outside world better.” Teachers also organised visits to the warships, saying its was a good chance to promote “patriotic education” for their students. Japan’s presence this year is a contrast to a decade ago when it was not invited to the PLA Navy’s 60th anniversary celebrations. At the same time, the United States, which sent the USS Fitzgerald, an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer in 2009, was not represented this year amid concerns about China’s assertiveness in the South China Sea. Vice-Admiral Shen Jinlong, the Chinese navy’s commander, told visiting naval delegations on Wednesday that China was keen to work with other navies to protect global maritime peace, but everyone needed to follow the rules and “safeguard good order”. 70th anniversary of China’s navy parade “Respect for the rules is the cornerstone of maritime good order,” Shen said, underlining Xi’s call to build a “maritime community with a shared future” with other countries. “Freedom of navigation is a concept widely recognised by the international community. However it should not be used as an excuse to infringe upon the legitimate rights and interests of littoral states.” Maritime order was also a concern for Ji Shuai, a senior staff member at a shipping company in Qingdao, as he toured vessels open to the public. “Since global challenges and tensions in the region are increasing, military-to-military exchanges are becoming more important. But I wonder whether the visiting foreign ships are equipped with weapons while they are in our territory,” Ji said. A senior officer on the Russian Admiral Gorshkov-class frigate declined to say what weapons were aboard the warship but said all visiting vessels were allowed to be equipped with a reasonable amount of arms. In a friendly gesture, all cannons, gun barrels and weapon systems on board should be sealed or covered while in Chinese waters, according to Macau-based military expert Antony Wong Dong. “It’s part of the maritime traditions established by the British navy,” Wong said. Under international maritime protocol, all ships also need to hang the national flag of the country they are visiting.