China parades new warship as navy celebrates 70th anniversary

China is modernizing its navy to project more of its military power around the world. Chinese President Xi Jinping said his country will "unswervingly follow the path of peaceful development."

China's navy on Tuesday celebrated 70 years since its creation with a large naval parade in the western port of Qingdao, showing off new military hardware that it hopes will bolster its global reach.

The parade featured 39 aircraft and 32 ships, including the Liaoning aircraft carrier and the Nanchang, the first of a new generation of Chinese-made guided missile destroyers. The first domestically produced aircraft carrier, known only as "Type 001A," was absent as it underwent sea trials.

Read more: Can China rival the US Navy in the Pacific?

Eighteen warships from India, Japan, Vietnam, Australia and nine other countries also took part in the parade.

Onboard the Xining, a destroyer commissioned two years ago, President Xi Jinping told sailors, "Comrades, thanks for your hard work."

"Hail to you, chairman," they replied. "Serve the people."

Xi Jinping reassured foreign naval officers that China was only interested in "peace"

'Peaceful development'

Xi, who also heads the military, is overseeing a plan to modernize the People's Liberation Army (PLA). Under his leadership, China has alarmed its neighbors and the United States by beefing up its military presence in the South China Sea.

Earlier on Tuesday, Xi told foreign naval officers in Qingdao that the Chinese people longed for peace and would "unswervingly follow the path of peaceful development."

Read more: South China Sea: China protests after US warship sails near island

"Everyone should respect each other, treat each other as equals, enhance mutual trust, strengthen maritime dialogue and exchanges, and deepen pragmatic cooperation between navies," he said.

South China Sea countries are building larger navies

Pride of the Chinese armada

The first Chinese aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, was originally a Soviet model built in 1986. In 1998, the stripped hulk was sold to China by Ukraine and rebuilt by the Dailian Shipbuilding Industry Company in northeastern China. It was completed in 2012 and has been ready for service since 2016.

South China Sea countries are building larger navies

'Black holes' for Vietnam

In recent years, Vietnam has acquired six Russian Kilo-class submarines. Two were delivered in 2017. The subs are nicknamed "black holes" by the US Navy, because they run very quietly and are difficult to locate. They are specialized for missions in shallow waters and for defense against enemy ships and submarines.

South China Sea countries are building larger navies

Flagship of the Philippines

The BRP Gregorio del Pilar is the flagship of the Philippine Navy. The vessel is one of three former US Coast Guard cutters that were acquired by the Philippines. The ship was first put in service in 1967 and it was modernized in 2011. In 2012, it was involved in the dispute with the People's Republic of China over Scarborough Shoal.

South China Sea countries are building larger navies

Warships from European shipyards

Indonesia is in the process of buying new ships and modernizing its navy. Pictured here is the KRI Sultan Hasanuddin, a Sigma-class corvette. The ship was built in 2007 in the Netherlands. Germany also supplies warships to countries in the region. The Kasturi-class corvettes in Malaysia and Brunei's Darussalam-class high-seas patrol boats come from German shipyards.

South China Sea countries are building larger navies

Singapore's stealth ships

Singapore is unmatched for hi-tech in the region. Since 2007, the city-state has put six Formidable-class stealth ships in service. All of them were built in France.

South China Sea countries are building larger navies

The long arm of the US Navy

The only truly global naval power remains the US Navy. The seventh fleet is stationed in the Pacific. It is the largest forward-deployed fleet of the US Navy with 50-60 ships, 350 aircraft and 60,000 personnel. This includes the only US aircraft carrier stationed outside of the US, the USS Ronald Regan, stationed at the US naval base in Yokosuka, Japan.

US no show

The United States sent a low-level delegation to Qingdao but did not send any ships to take part in the parade.

The US Navy regularly sends its warships through the South China Sea to challenge what it sees as excessive Chinese claims in the area.

China opposes these so-called freedom of navigation exercises near its bases in the Paracels and Spratlys island chains, and Chinese vessels often shadow their US counterparts when they stray near to Chinese-claimed territory.

amp/sms (Reuters, dpa, AP)

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