China wants to use its ‘biggest and most powerful destroyer’ to ‘deter the Americans’, expert says

China wants to use the commissioning of its ‘biggest and most powerful destroyer’ to prevent the United State from undermining its ‘core interests’, an expert claims. 

The official delivery of the Nanchang, the country’s first Type 055 guided missile destroyer, is meant to deter the Americans, he says.

The ceremony is an attempt from Beijing to ‘demonstrate its sufficient political will and military capability to the U.S. Government, especially under the present Trump Administration’, the Asia-based researcher adds.

The message from Beijing is that ‘any effort to undermine or subvert Beijing’s “core interests” concerning territorial and sovereignty issues – such as the case of Taiwan, and the South China Sea – could be met with military response.’ 

The Nanchang, China's first Type 055 guided missile destroyer, was commissioned to the navy of People's Liberation Army Sunday morning in the eastern Chinese port city of Qingdao

The Nanchang, China’s first Type 055 guided missile destroyer, was commissioned to the navy of People’s Liberation Army Sunday morning in the eastern Chinese port city of Qingdao

The ceremony is an attempt from Beijing to 'demonstrate its sufficient political will and military capability to the U.S. Government, especially under the present Trump Administration', an Asia-based researcher claims. Pictured, U.S. President Trump shakes hands with China's President Xi at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on November 9, 2017

The ceremony is an attempt from Beijing to ‘demonstrate its sufficient political will and military capability to the U.S. Government, especially under the present Trump Administration’, an Asia-based researcher claims. Pictured, U.S. President Trump shakes hands with China’s President Xi at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on November 9, 2017

The Nanchang, a domestically built 10,000-ton-class surface warship, was commissioned to the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) on Sunday in the eastern port city of Qingdao, according to the Chinese state media. 

The event reflects the extant rivalry between Beijing and Washington which has escalated in recent times, according to Collin Koh, a research fellow and maritime security expert at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore. 

Mr Koh believes that Beijing hopes to use the ceremony to impress upon its perceived aggressors and show off its growing naval might.

Tensions between the world’s two biggest economies have risen quickly due to a series of diplomatic spats, including the U.S.-China trade war, Washington’s spy allegations against Chinese telecom giant Huawei and the perceived ‘meddling’ from America in pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.

The Nanchang also went into active service on the same day when the U.S. expressed its support for the re-elected Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen, who won in a landslide on the back of a message of standing up to Beijing. 

China's second aircraft carrier, the Shandong (pictured), went into active service on December 17 and is stationed in the city of Sanya in southern China on the edge of the South China Sea

China’s second aircraft carrier, the Shandong (pictured), went into active service on December 17 and is stationed in the city of Sanya in southern China on the edge of the South China Sea

Mr Koh believes that Beijing intends to use the ship’s commissioning to accumulate more military strength to pursue its interests, including those concerning its territorial integrity and national sovereignty.

The research fellow told MailOnline in an email interview: ‘The usual narrative is that Beijing doesn’t wish for war but would fight and win one if compelled into one.

‘In other words, the Type-055 is meant for most part to deter: be it Taiwan’s “secessionists” or the Americans who may come to the aid of Taiwan and other countries with whom China has outstanding territorial and sovereignty disputes.’

In this photo released by the Taiwan Presidential Office, William Brent Christensen (right), director of the American Institute in Taiwan meets with Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen (left) in the Presidential Office in Taipei on January 12 after Tsai's landslide re-election victory

In this photo released by the Taiwan Presidential Office, William Brent Christensen (right), director of the American Institute in Taiwan meets with Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen (left) in the Presidential Office in Taipei on January 12 after Tsai’s landslide re-election victory

The Chinese navy is growing faster than any other major fleet. The country has been investing heavily on building a ‘deep blue water’ naval force capable of operating globally, and the official delivery of the Nanchang is a step forward in the ambitious military plan, according to Chinese state media Global Times.

The vessel could signal Beijing’s efforts of increasing its military firepower further from its shores and into the western Pacific.

Mr Koh points out that the commissioning of the Nanchang signifies that Chinese navy’s carrier capability is taking shape.

‘A carrier capability requires not only the carrier itself but also a robust, multi-layered set of defence and strike as well as afloat support elements,’ he explained.

The Type 055 Nanchang destroyer is expected to form a battle group with either of the country’s two aircraft carriers, reported Global Times, quoting Chinese experts.

China’s first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, entered service in September, 2012, and is based in Qingdao, the same city as the Nanchang.

Its second aircraft carrier, the Shandong, went into active service on December 17 and is stationed in the city of Sanya on the edge of the South China Sea.

The country is said to be building a third aircraft carrier, which would be equipped with a flat-top flight deck and an electromagnetic aircraft launch system.

The Type-901 fleet replenishment ship (pictured) is by far the largest such ship ever inducted and the 'linchpin' of afloat support of the Chinese navy's carrier battle group, the expert says

The Type-901 fleet replenishment ship (pictured) is by far the largest such ship ever inducted and the ‘linchpin’ of afloat support of the Chinese navy’s carrier battle group, the expert says

In 2017, the PLA already commissioned the Type-901 fleet replenishment ship. Mr Koh says the vessel is by far the largest such ship ever inducted and the ‘linchpin’ of afloat support of the PLA’s carrier battle group.

The commissioning of the Nanchang – being the lead ship of the class – is ‘significant if seen in this context’.

‘The ship epitomises the “Chinese dream” touted by President Xi Jinping, which envisages a wealthy nation with a strong military,’ he added.

‘The other dimension to consider is to see this destroyer as a projection of China’s growing stature – diplomatic, economic, military and technological – in the face of perceived U.S.-led containment scheme in the minds of the Chinese policy elites.’

The Nanchang measures 180 metres (590 feet) in length and 20 metres (66 feet) in width. It has a displacement of more than 10,000 tons and is equipped with 112 vertical launch missile cells capable of launching a combination of surface-to-air missiles, anti-ship missiles, land-attack missiles and anti-submarine missiles, reported Global Times, citing media reports.

A Beijing-based naval expert told the newspaper that the ‘versatile’ Type 055 could not only serve as a powerful escort to aircraft carriers but also lead a task group without a carrier and conduct a wide range of missions.

The Chinese navy is undergoing ‘comprehensive training’ aimed at forming operational capability for the Nanchang and merging the warship into its combat system, the vessel’s Captain, Zhou Minghui, told state broadcaster CCTV.

The Nanchang was launched on June 28, 2017, and flaunted at a maritime parade on April 23 last year in celebration of the 70th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese navy.

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