April 23, 2019 marks the 70th founding anniversary of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy. Journal of Qiu Shi, or Seeking Truth, a mouthpiece of the Communist Party of China (CPC), issued an article on April 16 titled “PLA Navy: Forging Ahead for 70 Years”, co-authored by Vice Admiral Shen Jinlong, Commander of the PLA Navy, and Vice Admiral Qin Shengxiang, Political Commissar of the PLA Navy.
They said in the article that China should accelerate the building of a world-class navy capable of effectively dealing with maritime security threats and deterring major rivals, which is commensurate with China’s standing in the world, so as to gain foothold in contending against powerful enemies in the open seas.
The very beginning of the article indicates that sea power is the key to the rise and fall of great powers. In the period from the middle of the 19th century to the founding of the People's Republic of China, China was invaded 470 times by foreign enemies from the sea. Therefore, four generations of Chinese leaders, including Mao Zedong, Deng Xiaoping, Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao, all attached great importance to the building of the PLA Navy.
On April 12, 2018, the PLA Navy held the biggest ever naval parade since its foundation in the South China Sea, involving 48 warships, 76 fighters, and more than 10,000 sailors. Chinese President Xi Jinping, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and chairman of China’s Central Military Commission (CMC), called for building a world-class naval power, which will act as a solid support for building a maritime power, and an integral part of fulfilling the Chinese dream of national rejuvenation.
The article reviews in detail the PLA Navy’s achievements in building the aircraft carrier battle groups, and the sea-based nuclear forces with the nuclear-powered submarine force as its core, ever since the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China. Furthermore, it also reveals some solemn and stirring stories like the officers and soldiers at a submarine base defending nuclear security with their lives in 2013, and the heroic deeds of Zhang Chao, a late Chinese carrier-based aircraft pilot in June 29, 2016. The article highlights their spirits of utter devotion on the post, which has been highly affirmed by President Xi Jinping.
The article also reveals that President Xi Jinping has been promoting the construction projects on certain islands and reefs in the South China Sea with firm will, which has changed the strategic situation of military struggle at sea and demonstrated the steadfast determination to fight for every inch of territorial land and waters within China’s sovereignty. On April 23, 2018, China unveiled a monument to mark its construction work on Yongshu Reef, Nansha Islands. Moreover, President Xi further declared the decision to establish China’s first overseas military base in Djibouti, a country located in the Horn of Africa.
Over the past decade since 2009, the PLA Navy has dispatched 32 escort taskforces, 103 ships, 69 helicopters, and more than 27,000 officers and soldiers to carry out escort missions in the Gulf of Aden, providing protection for more than 6,600 Chinese and foreign vessels. In the spring of 2015, when civil war erupted in Yemen, President Xi Jinping ordered the 19th Chinese naval escort taskforce in the Gulf of Aden to help evacuate overseas citizens in Yemen. Within 10 days, three Chinese naval vessels diverted from four ports and one island in three countries, successfully evacuating 621 Chinese nationals and 276 foreign citizens from 15 countries.
The article points out that the PLA Navy has accelerated its development of combat equipment system for far-sea defense, optimized the combat equipment system for offshore defense, and strengthened the combat equipment system for amphibious attack, which was remarkably reflected in the launch of the first domestic-made aircraft carrier (001A) and Type 055 destroyer, the delivery of carrier-based J-15 fighter jets in batches, and the refit of various fighter jets, early warning aircraft, anti-submarine patrol aircraft, as well as the deployment of new missiles and torpedoes.
In conclusion, the article emphasized the importance to further enhance new combat capabilities such as strategic deterrence, long-range strike, information attack and defense, to create strategic fists such as aircraft carrier battle groups and amphibious combat forces, in an effort to speed up the construction of powerful navy which is capable of effectively dealing with maritime security threats, deterring and restricting major opponents at sea, and is commensurate with China’s nationhood in the world.