Opinion / Editorials

Navy's responsibilities

(China Daily) Updated: 2012-12-27 07:11

Since Dec 26, 2008, Chinese naval vessels have escorted more than 5,000 ships in the Indian Ocean, with half of the vessels belonging to foreign owners. According to the People's Liberation Army Naval Headquarters, about 60 percent of vessels escorted by Chinese warships had ties to China's international trade, indicating the important and rising role the navy is playing in safeguarding the country's interests.

Given the notable contributions China makes to global economic growth and world trade, the country's endeavor to develop a blue-sea navy is commensurate with its development status and caters to its need to safeguard its national maritime interests.

As a country with more than 18,000 kilometers of coastline, 3 million square kilometers of territorial waters and growing interests overseas, China has to significantly improve its navy's capabilities.

The provocation of countries like Japan and the Philippines who covet Chinese islands and waters has complicated and even worsened the country's security environment. The need to usher in a better security environment in its vicinity highlights the fact that its capabilities have fallen far behind its needs.

So it is natural for the PLA Navy to take steps to narrow the gap.

China has long made clear its commitment to peaceful development and a defensive defense policy. And a stronger navy would better position China to answer calls that it shoulder more international responsibilities and make a greater contribution to world peace and stability.

In the past four years, Chinese navy ships have saved more than 60 vessels, including four transport ships loaded with World Food Program cargo, during their escort missions, which it would not have been able to do in the past because of the country's very limited naval capabilities.

The higher visibility of the Chinese navy has aroused concerns and even wild speculation overseas. There have been buzzwords that bear every emblem of the outdated "China threat" theory when China announced the delivering and the commissioning of its first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, in September.

It is unnecessary to overreact or read too much into China's efforts to build itself into a maritime power. China does not seek hegemony. It will not pose a threat to others. Its resolve to enhance its defense forces only serves its need to cultivate a good security environment for its peaceful development.

(China Daily 12/27/2012 page8)

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