The Chinese PLA Navy

The PLA Navy is considered by many as the weakest link in the Chinese Armed Forces. As China increases its trade and imports of raw materials, safety and security of the sea lanes are assuming importance. Thus the Chinese have undertaken extensive efforts to upgrade the PLA Navy. Naval up gradation keeping in view the constant need to pose a credible threat to Taiwan is also necessary. Thus missiles, 1000 of which are reportedly aligned towards Taipei and a potent marine force are two major arms of China’s Taiwan strategy.

The Chinese are conscious of their weakness in the naval field and have been projecting naval power at every opportunity. One such occasion was the Peace or Aman 07 exercises held in the Arabian Sea under Pakistan’s aegis. The key facets of the drills include conduct of multinational exercises for mid sea operations including search and rescue. The Chinese had fielded two ships, guided missile frigates Lianyungang and Sanming. During these exercises Senior Colonel Qiu Yanpeng (L1) was provided an opportunity to command the multi national forces during one of the phases of the exercise. Firing practices on the high seas and multinational helicopter operations were also conducted during this period.

A detailed report on participation of Chinese frigates in multinational exercises has been covered in, “Liberation Army Daily” excerpts of which have been reproduced in People’s Daily. Some of the achievements proclaimed include first participation of Chinese naval vessels in a joint maritime exercise which involved not just new procedures but also a new language, the high level of readiness and equipment maintenance of the ships, extensive stocking undertaken for the period which amounted to provisions for 40 days as against normal supplies for 15 days. During the exercises the commander of the Chinese flotilla, Senior Colonel Qiu Yanpeng’s performance in directing the joint maritime rescue operation received maximum kudos as, “The Chinese officer, calmed and composed, performed his duty with flying colours, and accomplished the drilling task an hour in advance as scheduled”. (Extracted from People’s Daily Online).

China is also reported to be building the first aircraft carrier by 2010. This will provide it large off-shore capabilities enhancing potential in the South China Seas. This is reported to have been revealed by a Chinese officer of the rank of Lt General or equivalent.

Rahul K. Bhonsle is a Strategic Risk and Knowledge Management Consultant and writer with specific focus on defence and security, especially in South Asia.