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China's navy to go high tech on the high sea

LARGE combat ships, supersonic aircraft and high-speed intelligent torpedoes are among the sophisticated marine weapons that China plans to build.

"The navy will move faster in researching and building new-generation weapons to boost the ability to fight in regional sea wars using information technology," Navy Commander Admiral Wu Shengli said in an interview yesterday - a week ahead of the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People's Liberation Army Navy.

In addition to ships, aircraft and torpedoes, long-range missiles with high accuracy, submarines with heightened stealth capability and endurance, and electronic weapons and facilities are also on the navy's agenda.

Wu said the navy will incorporate the capacity for non-wartime military actions into the country's integrated military force planning, especially emergency offshore search and rescue and anti-terrorism activities.

Since 2003, President Hu Jintao has repeatedly inspected the navy and made suggestions on its development.

"The navy should be strengthened and modernized ... to serve the country and its people more effectively," Hu said when meeting with representatives of the Navy's 10th Party congress on December 27, 2006.

China has huge strategic benefits in its sea areas, and current threats to the country's security come mostly from the seas, said Hu, who is also chairman of the Central Military Commission.

Hu urged the navy to achieve rapid development and enhance its defensive operations with information technology.

The Chinese navy will continue its missions in the Gulf of Aden and waters off the Somali coast this year to protect merchant vessels against spreading piracy.

The Gulf of Aden is one of the world's busiest shipping routes, through which about 1,000 Chinese vessels pass each year.

Meanwhile, more than 40 naval vessels are expected to join an international fleet around April 23 in a display to mark the 60th anniversary of the founding of the PLA navy, according to previous reports.

The navies of 15 countries have pledged to send ships to the port city of Qingdao as part of the celebrations, and at least 28 foreign countries will send delegations.

The event presents an opportunity for foreign navies to make close observations of the PLA navy's equipment and personnel.


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