The Chinese military has deployed brand new, state-of-the-art naval destroyers into the South China Sea, as a specific show of force to the US.
The fleet of new destroyers is said to have “the power to wipe out US warships in the South China Sea.” Military experts say the news proves Beijing’s naval development has entered a “crucial new stage” amid mounting tensions in the disputed waters.
The unveiling of the new ships — Type 055 and Type 052D destroyers — came just days after the decommissioning of multiple outdated Type 051 destroyers. This show of force comes only a few short weeks after US aircraft carriers sailed through the South China Sea after Washington accused Beijing of a “campaign of bullying” in the region.
The USS Nimitz and USS Ronald Reagan travelled with their strike groups into the sea in mid-July in a major show of US Naval power to China.
Hong Kong-based media group Takung Wenwei reported the Peoples Liberation Army’s (PLA) new destroyers were launched from the Dalian Shipyard on the morning of August 31. Military analysts say the new Chinese warships are more than a match for the world’s top destroyers – including the US’s own well-respected Zumwalt-class.
The new destroyers take the place of warships which have been in service for the PLA since the 1970s China has prioritized updating its naval fleet over the past 12 months as part of $400 billion military modernization program.
It’s reported it now boasts around 20 modern, aegis-type destroyers, and in four to five years that number is expected to double. Its total naval fleet now stands at 777 vessels compared to the US’s 490. However, lest you think that leaves the US outgunned, it still lags behind its superpower rival when it comes to the most powerful and deadly ships on the sea — aircraft carriers, with just two compared to the Pentagon’s 20.
With the deployment of the new ships, Beijing is now planning to hold war games in the region next, which is the focus of tension with the US and close to Taiwan. In seeming response to China’s saber-rattling, the USS Halsey (DDG-97) sailed through the Taiwan Strait, marking the second US transit in two weeks and the ninth this year.
“The US navy will continue to fly, sail and operate anywhere international law allows,” a US navy spokesman said.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has accused China of a” completely unlawful” pursuit of territory in the South China Sea. He has condemned China for carrying out a campaign of “bullying” to control the waters.
The South China Sea is considered to be potentially energy rich and a key global shipping lane.
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