The remarkable shipbuilding spree undertaken in recent years by China’s People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) has been highlighted by a photo of five warships under “mass construction” in a state shipyard in Dalian.
An aerial image, showing five Type 052D Destroyers – numbered in the image posted on Weibo and published in Naval News and the South China Morning Post recently – shows the rapid pace in which China is transforming from a ‘brown water navy’ to a ‘blue-water navy’ that seeks to have global impact.
The five new warships are among China’s most advanced at firing guided-missiles, according to the report in Naval News, which said China had “launched a record 10 destroyers in 2019 with eight more in 2021”, adding that the pace of construction “confirms its status as the largest in the world”.
Military observers say there are currently 25 of these type of warships, considered equivalent to America’s AEGIS destroyers, in service, the report said, and the total will rise to 31 once the five in Dalian and another being built at the Jiangnan-Changxing shipyard near Shanghai are completed.
China’s rush to expand its naval and military was “deeply worrying”, according to John Blaxland, a professor of international security and intelligence studies at the Australian National University’s strategic and defence studies centre, a report by The Guardian said.
A US think tank, the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, has forecast that with China’s $300-billion defence budget over the next decade “the PLA may have sufficient resources to boast five aircraft carriers and over 60 cruisers and destroyers,” as well as a modern fleet of submarines, the Guardian report said.
- Alfie Habershon and Jim Pollard