China launches ‘best destroyers’ in Indo-Pacific waters in response to US Navy ‘muscle fluctuations’ with Japan
China launches ‘best destroyers’ in Indo-Pacific waters in response to US Navy ‘muscle fluctuations’ with Japan

China launches ‘best destroyers’ in Indo-Pacific waters in response to US Navy ‘muscle fluctuations’ with Japan

The United States is showing its naval firepower in the Indo-Pacific waters at a time when the world’s attention is still focused on the war in Ukraine. In what could raise temperatures in the region, China has also deployed its best destroyers in the region.

Four of China’s largest and most modern destroyers have been observed off the east coast of the country, even while an attack group from the US Navy is conducting military exercises with Japan near the Korean Peninsula.

The four ships were identified as Chinese Type 055 Renhai-class guided missile destroyers in waters near Qingdao, the headquarters of the North Sea Fleet, by HI Sutton, an analyst at US Naval Defense Intelligence News. The photos were posted by Chinese social media, including the Weibo account ‘Eagle Eye on Military Vision’.

In an unprecedented development for the region, American and Japanese warships are conducting a joint naval exercise in waters between Japan and the Korean Peninsula for the first time in five years.

The exercises, led by USS Abraham Lincoln’s attacking group, are seen as the show of their close military alliance amid growing speculation about North Korea’s missile test later this week, Japan Today reported.

USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier- USNI

These exercises have been interpreted as an apparent attempt to dissuade North Korea’s provocations, which are set to celebrate ‘Sun Day’ or the birthday of its founder Kim Il Sung on 15 April.

USA anticipates that Pyongyang could carry out yet another provocative test to mark the day as it adopts a more belligerent approach with its nuclear program, amid the global preoccupation with Russia. However, China’s mobilization of its destroyers is intriguing given that US actions were aimed at North Korea.

However, it is pertinent to mention that China is North Korea’s only friend in the region and its closest partner in the world, which has consistently blocked US resolutions against the country at the UN forum.

The unusual appearance of Chinese destroyers

The four Type 055 destroyers had accompanied the country’s two aircraft carriers, Liaoning and Shandong, when they returned to the Dalian shipyard in Liaoning for maintenance, according to Zhou Chenming of Yuan Wang’s military science and technology think tank in Beijing, the SCMP noted.

“There is no formal military exercise for the four ships because a formal naval flotilla should be composed of different types of warships,” Zhou said.

Nanchang, Lhasa, Anshan and Wuxi are the four Type 055 destroyers that have been put into use in the last two years. China has produced a total of eight Type 055 destroyers, six of which have already been deployed, and the second type of Lhasa is now ready for combat as before. reported by EurAsian Times.

Type 055 Destroyer Lhasa (via Twitter)

Nanchang (101), the first Type-055 ship, was launched in June 2017 and went into operation in January 2020. Since then, seven more have been built in Dalian and Shanghai.

Two more warships are being built in Dalian’s huge dry dock. According to HI Sutton, a well-known submarine and underground systems analyst, these are most likely Type-055 Renhai Class ships, the ones that have been seen off China’s east coast recently.

High stakes in the Indo-Pacific

The United States has tried to project its power into the region and sent the message to its opponents that they remain active and attentive in the Indo-Pacific despite a war in Eastern Europe. Last month, the airline conducted another exercise in the Yellow Sea in response to North Korea’s missile test.

For the first time since 2017, North Korea conducted a full test of an intercontinental ballistic missile last month, followed by a statement from its leader that it could develop a more powerful means of attack. The opinion, published in the KCNA, suggested that it could soon test a nuclear device.

Further, according to for a recent U.S. military intelligence report, North Korea is using its space program to test and develop its ballistic missile capabilities. Pyongyang claimed to have launched spacecraft (SLVs) on February 27 and March 5, claiming that the launch was for the development of a new spy satellite.

Zhang Liangui, professor of international strategic research at Central Party School, said: “North Korea threatens to resume its long-range missile development and nuclear test, which it once announced would stop.” Pyongyang fears the world will forget it in the midst of a protracted Ukraine due to the dilemma of ceasefire negotiations between Moscow and Kiev. “

The aviation group conducted “regular bilateral operations” with Japan’s maritime self-defense force, a spokesman for the U.S. 7th Fleet told the U.S. military daily Stars and Stripes. “Our training increases the credibility of conventional deterrence by demonstrating the strength of our bilateral partnerships,” said 7th Fleet spokesman Lieutenant Mark Langford.

Type 055 destroyer: Symbol of the development of the Chinese navy - CGTN
Type 055 destroyer: CGTN

Operations like this “assure our allies and partners of the United States’ commitment to maintaining a free and open Indo-Pacific,” he said.

The US-Japan exercises also come at a time when Taiwan is geared to buy Patriot air defense system, to China’s enchantment. Furthermore, the President of the American House, Nancy Pelosi, could soon be expected to take a trip to Taiwan. China has taken a strong exception from a visit by the American speaker.

Taiwan has stepped up its military preparations against China in recent times. It simulated a PLA attack and performed air drills, while also publishing a civil defense handbook for its citizens. Both of these efforts were downplayed by the Chinese experts as vain exercises aimed at resisting reunification.

That said, the Chinese destroyers crossing the sea could be either a mere coincidence or a message to the United States that the PLA fleet remains vigilant against all activities in its vicinity. Tensions have been high between the two opponents, especially as the United States remains wary of China invading Taiwan, in the footsteps of its ally Moscow.

So in the face of the prevailing circumstances, the United States remains gripped by the importance of deterring its opponents in the Indo-Pacific, even though the Russian war is taking an ugly and more intense turn in Ukraine.

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