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60th Birthday of the Chinese Navy
Special> 60th Birthday of the Chinese Navy
UPDATED: May 2, 2009 NO. 18 MAY 7, 2009
Fleet in Being
Defending maritime interests and security is of vital importance to the nation's sustainable development

Because of its geographic location, China must have a powerful naval force to safeguard its national interests. The country has more than 3 million square km of territorial sea area abundant in mineral, energy and other resources. In 2008, China's gross ocean product approached 3 trillion yuan ($430 billion), up 11 percent year on year and accounting for 9.87 percent of the national gross domestic product. Defending maritime interests and security is of vital importance to the nation's sustainable development.

On the other hand, crimes at sea and disputes over maritime interests have been on the rise worldwide in past decades, severely threatening world peace. China is playing an increasingly important role in global efforts to eradicate these threats. For example, China has, in accordance with a UN solution, sent four warships and one supply vessel to the Gulf of Aden to fight piracy there together with other countries. In the future, the Chinese Navy is certain to carry out more missions of this kind, which requires it to consistently upgrade its combat and logistics capabilities.

The Navy of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) of China celebrates its 60th anniversary this year. In the past six decades, especially the last 30 years, the service has remarkably improved its combat platforms, weaponry and equipment, and initially developed offshore operational capabilities. Despite this, it is still not a blue-water navy that is able to operate on the "high seas," and lags behind its counterparts in the United States, Russia and several Western countries in terms of overall strength.

Last month, China held grand celebrations for its navy's founding anniversary, with the theme of "harmonious ocean." Navies of 29 countries sent delegations to participate in a variety of exchange programs. Twenty-one visiting naval vessels from 14 countries also took part in an international review on April 23, following the largest ever parade of the PLA Navy. These activities showed the Chinese Navy's progress in an all-round way, reflecting China's capability and resolution to develop a powerful naval force and safeguard national maritime interests. They also displayed China's positive attitude toward building maritime harmony through enhancing mutual understanding and cooperation among navies of different countries.

Historically, naval development around the world was usually linked to settling disputes by force. However, China's national defense policy is defensive in nature. In line with this, the country will not build an offensive navy to cruise the globe, but concentrate on offshore areas. Even if the Chinese Navy is modernized in future, it will not deviate from this peaceful path.


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