Hu to be third leader to inspect naval fleet

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 23 April, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 23 April, 2009, 12:00am

The PLA Navy parade today that President Hu Jintao will inspect in Qingdao , Shandong province, will be the largest in the nation's modern history.

As chairman of the Central Military Commission of the People's Liberation Army, Mr Hu would inspect the parade, an officer from the local authority told the South China Morning Post yesterday. He will be the third leader to inspect the navy since it was founded in 1949.

Xinhua said the navy's three key naval forces - the North Sea, East Sea and South Sea fleets - had sent warships to take part in the parade.

The North Sea Fleet, with its headquarters in Qingdao, would play a leading role in the parade, the report said, adding that it would send four submarines and new types of destroyers, frigates and fighter jets.

Only the North Sea Fleet, the most prominent of the three fleets, will feature submarines in the parade. Four of the fleet's nuclear-powered subs will be shown but it was not clear which ones, and the numbers of other warships and aircraft taking part were not released either.

It is believed the fleet has at least six nuclear-powered subs.

The PLA Navy was founded at the Baima Temple in Taizhou , Jiangsu , after several warships from the Kuomintang surrendered to the communists. As it lacked the funds and technology to develop its weapons in its first 56 years, the navy has staged only three small-scale parades, and none on the anniversary.

The first naval review in Qingdao on August 4, 1957, was inspected by then premier Zhou Enlai as the PLA's top leader, Mao Zedong , was recovering from flu. Only four destroyers bought from the Soviet Union featured in the review.

Mr Hu's predecessor, Jiang Zemin , attended the second naval review on the Yellow Sea on October 19, 1995, in which the nation's indigenous destroyers and submarines were displayed for the first time.

The third review was staged on August 18, 2005, following a Sino-Russian joint military exercise in the sea off Shandong province, but no leaders attended.