China is running out of provincial capitals to name new destroyers, and it might have to turn to other big domestic cities, which reflects the country's rapid naval development in recent years, military experts said on Monday.
At the maritime parade in Qingdao, East China's Shandong Province in late April to celebrate the People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy's 70th anniversary, the PLA Navy confirmed that it has named its first Type 055 destroyer Nanchang, the capital city of East China's Jiangxi Province.
One of the three other Type 055 destroyers will be named Lhasa, the capital of Southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region, Upolitics, a public WeChat account run by Beijing Youth Daily, reported.
With other provincial capital names being used by other destroyers, the naming of the Nanchang and Lhasa leaves only Nanning and Taipei available, according to the report.
China's 13th and latest Type 052D destroyer is named Qiqihar and will soon be commissioned into the PLA Navy, Hecheng Evening News, a Qiqihar-based newspaper, reported in April. Qiqihar is a city in Northeast China's Heilongjiang Province and is not the capital.
Chinese destroyers and frigates should be named after big and medium Chinese cities, according to the naval vessels naming regulation.
This means naming of destroyers does not necessarily have to use provincial capitals, as it was a non-binding tradition, experts said.
A few Chinese destroyers have been named after big cities other than provincial capitals, like the Shenzhen, a Type 051B destroyer.
As China runs out of provincial capitals to use, more examples like the Shenzhen and Qiqihar will be used, an anonymous military expert told the Global Times.
Li Daguang, a professor at the National Defense University of the PLA, told the Global Times that the naming issue reflects the rapid development of the PLA Navy in recent years.
While new destroyers might have to use names of big cities other than provincial capitals, older destroyers that use provincial capital names might be decommissioned in the future and their names could be used again on newer ships, Li told the Global Times.
In terms of future Chinese destroyer development, Upolitics reported that three more Type 055 destroyers have been launched and a total of eight are being planned for the first batch.
More Type 052D destroyers could also be on the way, analysts said. China's 14th and latest Type 052D was launched in July 2018, media reported.
It is the first stretched variant that is reportedly four meters longer than the original Type 052D.