* Collin Koh writes that a political solution is the way to win trust in the disputed maritime region as China’s naval force grows more powerful and modern.
As the PLA Navy stands poised to celebrate its 70th anniversary, there is much to be happy about, especially where capability modernisation is concerned.
The navy by 2000 had mustered a total of 57 submarines, only six of which were built in the 1990s and could have been considered modern and up-to-date. The same applied to only four of the total of 20 destroyers and frigates in the navy’s fleet at the time.
Fast forward to today’s PLA Navy. According to the International Institute of Strategic Studies’ 2019 assessment of global military capabilities and defence economics, 51 of China’s 59 submarines are viewed as modern and up-to-date. Meanwhile, 67 of its 86 destroyers and frigates – mostly commissioned in recent years – are top-of-the-line.
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WNU Editor: I have zero faith that China is interested in achieving a political agreement on the South China Sea, or with any other border dispute. The primary objective of China’s military buildup has always been to intimidate its neighbours to not contest its claims, and if they do, to show them what happens when they do so …. Vietnam Accuses China of Ramming Vessels in S. China Sea (VOA).