PLA warships circumnavigate Japan in distance sea drills amid US, Japanese provocations

By Liu Xuanzun (Global Times) 08:59, June 22, 2022

Led by the Type 055 large destroyer Lhasa, a Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy flotilla reportedly sailed from northwest to the east and south sides of Japan on Monday and Tuesday after making transits in three strategic straits near the island country, and the vessels are expected to make a full circle around Japan if they are to continue in their path and return to base, similarly to a voyage by a Chinese-Russian joint flotilla last year.

Japan should get used to China's normal national defense development and stop hyping the "China threat" theory while joining the US in interfering in China's Taiwan question, as China will not threaten anyone, but has what it takes to safeguard its sovereignty, territorial integrity and developmental interests, analysts said on Tuesday.

A PLA Navy flotilla consisting of four vessels, namely the Type 055 large destroyer Lhasa, the Type 052D destroyer Chengdu, the Type 903A replenishment ship Dongpinghu and the Type 815 electronic surveillance ship Tianlangxing, sailed through the Tsushima Strait in the northwest of Japan and entered the Sea of Japan from June 12 to 13, then they exited the region and entered the Pacific Ocean between Thursday and Friday, with the Lhasa and the Chengdu going via the Soya Strait and the Dongpinghu and the Tianlangxing via the Tsugaru Strait in the north of Japan, Japan's Ministry of Defense Joint Staff said in a press release on Tuesday.

From Sunday to Monday, the Lhasa, the Chengdu and the Dongpinghu were spotted sailing south along Japan's eastern coastline but outside of territorial waters, with the whereabouts of the Tianlangxing unknown, according to the Japanese press release.

On Tuesday, the three Chinese warships sailed to the south side of Japan, according to the Japanese press release.

In October 2021, a Chinese-Russian joint naval flotilla circumnavigated Japan in a joint maritime patrol, with the Nanchang, the first Type 055, being the command ship, media reported at the time. Observers predict that the flotilla this time led by the Lhasa, the second ship in the Type 055 class, could repeat this voyage in a similar way.

A Chinese military expert who requested anonymity told the Global Times on Tuesday that at this time, when Japan and the US have been making repeated provocations on China over the Taiwan question, the PLA's naval activities serve as a warning to them, as some of the most important Japanese and US military bases are located on the east side of Japan, like the US Navy base in Yokosuka.

The US and Japan should realize and get used to the fact that the PLA is fully capable of safeguarding China's sovereignty, territorial integrity and developmental interests, and they should stop hyping the so-called "China threat" theory, attempting to contain China militarily and interfering in the Taiwan question, which is an internal affair of China, the expert said.

The PLA flotilla's far sea drills are a deterrent to "Taiwan independence" secessionist and foreign military interfering forces, Wei Dongxu, a Beijing-based military expert, told the Global Times.

Wei said that the powerful Lhasa has reached 100 percent operational capability, and it can carry out military missions in the far sea as the core of a flotilla.

Just a few days ago, a flotilla of five warships from the Russian Navy also circumnavigated Japan, according to Japan's Ministry of Defense Joint Staff. It is yet unclear whether the Russian naval activities were related to the Chinese naval activities like in last year's joint maritime patrol, as the two countries' vessels were not close to each other like last time, observers said.

(Web editor: Zhong Wenxing, Hongyu)


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