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China's navy celebrates 70th anniversary

April 23, 2019

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."

The honor guards of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy stand in formation before a naval parade staged to mark the 70th founding anniversary of the PLA Navy at a pier in Qingdao, east China's Shandong Province, on April 23, 2019
Image: picture-alliance/Xinhua/L. Gang

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."

Chinese President Xi Jinping marches past Chinese naval officers at the navy's 70th anniversary
Xi Jinping reassured foreign naval officers that China was only interested in "peace"Image: picture-alliance/dpa/xinhua/Li Gang

'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.

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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