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China commissions three advanced naval ships

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BEIJING (PTI):  China has commissioned three main battle warships, including a nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine, a large destroyer and the country's largest amphibious assault ship that can carry around 30 helicopters and hundreds of troops.

The ships were commissioned at a ceremony on Saturday attended by President Xi Jinping at Sanya, China's main naval base in the disputed South China Sea in Hainan province.

The vessels commissioned included the Type 075 amphibious assault ships, which can carry an estimated 30 helicopters and hundreds of troops. It is China's largest amphibious assault ship with an estimated displacement of about 40,000 tonnes, Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post reported on Sunday.

The Type 09IV submarine is believed to be the second-generation class of China's nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines, replacing the old Type 09II, state-run China Daily reported.

The Type 055 is the most powerful destroyer in the Peoples liberation Army Navy (PLAN) which is equipped with new types of air-defence, missile-defence, anti-ship and anti-submarine weapons, the report said.

The new additions are part of the massive modernisation of the PLAN which included the aircraft carriers.

China has built two aircraft carriers. Official media reports say China plans to have six aircraft carriers.

China's defence budget this year crossed USD 209 billion. Much of its military modernisation focussed on massive expansion of the navy and the air force as Beijing stepped up its assertive role in the disputed South China Sea and Taiwan, where the US too is stepping up its presence.

Beijing claims most part of the 1.3 million square mile South China Sea as its sovereign territory. China has been building military bases on artificial islands in the region also claimed by Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam.

China has also built its naval bases in Djibouti in the Indian Ocean besides Pakistan's Gwadar port and acquired Sri Lanka's Hambantota port for 99 years' lease.


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