China is to show off new warships, including nuclear submarines and destroyers, at a parade on Tuesday marking 70 years since its navy’s founding, a senior commander said yesterday, as Beijing flexes its increasingly well-equipped military muscle.
Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) is overseeing a sweeping plan to refurbish China’s military by developing everything from stealth jets to aircraft carriers as China ramps up its presence in the South China Sea and around Taiwan.
The Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) has been a key beneficiary of the modernization plan, as China looks to project power far from the country’s shores, and protect its trading routes and citizens overseas.
Beijing last month unveiled a target of a 7.5 percent rise in defense spending for this year, a slower rate than last year, but still outpacing China’s economic growth target.
PLAN Vice Admiral Qiu Yanpeng (邱延鵬) told reporters in the eastern city of Qingdao that Tuesday’s naval parade — likely to be overseen by Xi himself, although China has not confirmed that — would feature 32 vessels and 39 warplanes.
“The PLAN ships and aircraft to be revealed are the Liaoning aircraft carrier, new types of nuclear submarines, new types of destroyers, as well as fighter aircraft,” Qiu said, without giving details. “Some ships will be revealed for the first time.”
It is not clear if China’s second carrier, an as-yet unnamed ship developed and built purely in China, is also to take part, but in the past few days, state media have run stories praising recent sea trials.
About a dozen foreign navies are also taking part. While Qiu did not give an exact number, China has announced the parade would include ships from Russia, Singapore, India, Thailand and Vietnam.
Vietnam frequently complains of Chinese military activity in the disputed South China Sea, where Taiwan also has claims.
China’s last naval battles were with the Vietnamese in the South China Sea, in 1974 and 1988, although these were relatively minor skirmishes.
Qiu reiterated China’s frequent stance that its armed forces are not a threat to anyone.
“It is fair to say that the PLAN has not brought war or turbulence to any place,” but China has been scarred by its past and needs good defenses, Qiu said.
“A strong navy is essential for building a strong maritime country,” Qiu said. “From 1840 to 1949, China was invaded by foreign powers from the sea more than 470 times, which caused untold suffering and deep wounds to the Chinese nation.”
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