|Arthur Dominic Villasanta |||May 24, 2017 05:53 PM EDT|
(Photo : PLAN) Shenyang J-15 fighters take-off from the CNS Liaoning.
The People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) has a long way to go as it aims "for the top ranks in the world" thereby transforming China into a great maritime power, admitted Chinese president Xi Jinping.
Xi again called for more and greater efforts to build the PLAN into a strong and modern force to lend support for the realization of the Chinese dream of national rejuvenation and the dream of a strong army, said Chinese state-run media.
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Xi, who is also general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC), made the remarks yesterday during an inspection of PLAN headquarters.
"Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," according to Xi.
He said PLAN is a "pivot" for transforming China into a great maritime power, an admission PLAN is still transitioning from a brown water or coastal navy into a true blue sea navy capable of sailing the world's oceans.
"Innovation is key to improving and transforming the navy," said Xi.
PLAN should be able to operate far out at sea, combining the strength of forces on the water, under it and in the skies above, he added. Xi said he is personally paying close attention to naval missions.
"You continuously fight wind and waves. Thanks for your hard work!" said Xi to the PLAN officers and men he talked to.
PLAN and its main rival, the U.S. Navy are engaged in a naval arms race to create the most powerful fleet in the world. The U.S. Navy currently holds this distinction and is seeking to maintain its qualitative and quantitative edge over PLAN with a furious warship building program over the next two decades.
PLAN currently operates some 490 ships and 700 aircraft. Its sea-going surface warships that will battle the U.S. Navy include two aircraft carriers (one of which is in sea trials); 32 destroyers; 51 frigates and 32 corvettes. It also operates 68 submarines (nuclear-powered and conventional).
The majority of the fleet, however, consists of small missile boats (109 in number), gunboats, submarine chasers, minesweepers, landing ships, replenishment ships, amphibious transport docks (four ships) and tank landing ships (32).
PLAN is the second largest navy in the world in terms of tonnage, only behind the U.S. Navy, and has the largest number of major combatants of any navy.
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