China will show off new warships including nuclear submarines and destroyers at a parade next week marking 70 years since the founding of its navy, a senior commander said on Saturday, April 20th, as Beijing flexes its increasingly well-equipped military muscle, Reuters has reported.
President Xi Jinping is overseeing a sweeping plan to refurbish the People's Liberation Army (PLA), by developing everything from stealth jets to aircraft carriers, as China ramps up its presence in the South China Sea and around self-ruled Taiwan.
The navy has been a key beneficiary of the modernisation plan as China looks to project power far from the country's shores, and protect its trading routes and citizens overseas.
Last month, Beijing unveiled a target of 7.5 % rise in defence spending for this year, a slower rate than last year but still outpacing China's economic growth target.
Deputy naval commander Qiu Yanpeng said in the eastern city of Qingdao that Tuesday's April 23rd naval parade is likely to be overseen by Xi himself, and will feature 32 vessels and 39 aircraft.
Qiu also said, "The PLA navy ship and aircraft to be revealed are the Liaoning aircraft carrier, new types of nuclear submarines, new types of destroyers, as well as fighter aircraft," adding without giving details, "Some ships will be revealed for the first time."
The Liaoning, the country's first carrier, was bought second-hand from Ukraine in 1998 and refitted in China.
Around a dozen foreign navies are also taking part. While Qiu did not give an exact number, China has announced the parade would include ships from Russia, Singapore, India, Thailand and Vietnam, which frequently complains of Chinese military activity in the disputed areas of the South China Sea.
China's last naval battles were with the Vietnamese in the South China Sea, in 1974 and 1988, though these were relatively minor skirmishes.
Chinese navy ships have also participated in international anti-piracy patrols off Somalia's coast since late 2008.
Qiu reiterated China's frequent stance that its armed forces are not a threat to anyone and that no matter what happens it will never "pursue hegemony," despite the fact that China has been scared by its past and needs good defences at sea.
Qiu remarked, "A strong navy is essential for building a strong maritime country. From 1840 to 1949, China was invaded by foreign powers from the sea more than 470 times, which caused untold suffering and deep wounds to the Chinese nation."
China has frequently had to rebuff concerns about its military intentions, especially as military spending continues to scale new heights.
Beijing says it has nothing to hide, and has invited foreign media to cover next week's naval parade and related activities, including a keynote speech by navy chief Shen Jinlong, who is close to Xi.