Naval development reflects pursuit of world military role
By Guillaume Klein, AFP
September 26, 2011, 5:48 pm TWN
SHANGHAI--China's navy is playing an important role in the country's drive to become a world military power, with the recent trials of its first aircraft carrier underlining the scale of Beijing's naval ambitions.
China has become increasingly assertive on the high seas and the carrier's first outing last month sparked jitters in the United States and Japan, which said the move would have a "big impact" on the region.
The People's Liberation Army (PLA) — the largest armed force in the world — is primarily a land force. But the navy is playing an increasing role as Beijing grows more assertive about its territorial claims, notably in the East China Sea and South China Sea.
On a rare visit on board the Anqing, a missile frigate at the Eastern Fleet base in Ningbo, south of Shanghai, journalists were accompanied by a group of officers as soldiers looked on impassively.
The officers were giving little away and the ship appeared to serve as a museum piece as much as a warship.
"As a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council, China must take greater responsibility in world affairs," Captain Wei Hua, chief of staff of the Shanghai naval base, told the visiting journalists.
"We have some 18,000 kilometers of coastline and over three million square kilometers of maritime area. It is therefore very important to build a powerful navy to protect the country and its interests."