The Chinese navy must prepare itself for new challenges and accept a greater role in international peace-keeping missions as the nation's power and influence expand in global affairs, a senior naval officer said yesterday.
Vice Admiral Ding Yiping, deputy commander of the navy of the People's Liberation Army, told China National Radio that China's rise would be accompanied by the need to engage more in keeping the peace on regional and global stages, as well as carrying out more humanitarian missions.
'Clearly, China will have to assume the duties of a responsible power,' Ding said on Sunday, ahead of the PLA's 85th anniversary tomorrow. 'The international situation at present is very complicated, and maritime security also faces new challenges. These place new and higher requirements on our navy.
'[We] must further strengthen our ability to complete a wide range of military missions, and to make more contributions as guardians of the country's marine interests, rights and security.'
He said there was a lot of room for hardware advancements.
'For a navy that aspires to reach farther, it must solve a series of problems, such as its capabilities in surveillance and early warning, secured communications, guiding and positioning, logistics and so on, in waters far away from home.'
Although the Chinese navy had learned a lot during escort missions for commercial fleets in the pirate-plagued Gulf of Aden in the past few years, Ding said they still lagged behind other major navies. 'Compared with the world's naval powers, [especially] those navies with hundreds of years of history, there are considerable and obvious gaps.
'Our navy's ability to deploy to faraway waters is still limited by our capability [in terms of hardware development and science and technology],' he said.
Ding said the Chinese navy now only executes United Nations-authorised non-combat missions in specific waters, to ensure maritime safety and protecting strategic sea lanes.
Separately, the Ministry of National Defence has denied speculation by some Middle East media that China may send naval ships to Syria for joint war games, after an Egyptian newspaper reported a Chinese warship was seen in Egypt's Suez Canal.
'The destroyer Qingdao and frigate Yantai are respectively scheduled to visit Ukraine and Romania from [today] to August 4, following their completion of escort missions in the Gulf of Aden and Somalia waters,' a ministry spokesman told the South China Morning Post, adding that there was 'no such thing' as any joint war games.
Meanwhile, China News Service reported that the country's first and unnamed aircraft carrier - built using the hull of an unfinished Soviet carrier, the Varyag - completed its longest and ninth sea trial yesterday and returned to its port in Dalian , Liaoning .
The report said the latest trial lasted about 600 hours in the Bohai and Yellow seas. The first test run, in August last year, lasted five days, and later runs ranged from 11 to 15 days.