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A new model of unscrewed surface ships, also known as USVs, have been seen docked at piers on China’s north coast, a few kilometers from Xiaopingdao Naval Base. The base, reportedly used by the People’s Liberation Army, has in the past housed Chinese submarines, including Ming Type-036 class boats.
According to UNSI News, the State Shipbuilding Corporation of China built JARI-USV “mini-destroyers” at the site in 2018.
The JARI, which refers to the Jiangsu Automation Research Institute, is a remarkable USV in its own right.
The boat, which is about 50 feet long, is capable of being equipped with an ambitious arsenal of weapons, including surface-to-air missiles, and two torpedoes.
The added electronic warfare systems also include phase-controlled radars and electro-optical devices, as well as more conventional sonar systems, which can be used for tracking submerged targets such as submarines.
The new vessels under development appear to follow a model similar to that of the JARI.
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Much like its counterpart, it has openings for torpedoes on either side of the hull, however, its size is significantly larger, providing an additional 20 feet of space, making the craft much more stable than the JARI.
Some experts believe China also has other secret warships in the port, built in 2017.
The emergence of this Chinese military material comes at a time of heightened tension in the region.
Already, China and the United States have repeatedly crossed paths around the South China Sea, a place in which China has started reclaiming land from the sea, building a vast multitude of islands in the process.
US spy planes have been warned to stay away
Many islands would be used for military purposes, with clear satellite images of runways and ports appearing on the new plots of land.
The United States has often been warned to move away from the area during aerial reconnaissance by Chinese military units.
The United States has repeatedly defended its right to fly in international airspace, and has continued to do so despite Chinese pressure to stay away.
In addition, tensions between China and Taiwan have also led China to flex its military muscles as a war of words between Beijing and Taipei appears to be escalating daily.
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Chinese Navy exhibits some of its equipment
President Xi pledged to reclaim the self-proclaimed independent territory that he says is still part of China, while Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen said the small island would defend itself and not give in to pressure from the China.
The satellite images were released at a time of heightened tension, which intensified following the signing of the AUKUS agreement between Australia, the UK and the US.
AUKUS will see a fleet of nuclear-powered submarines built in Australia, in a move widely seen as an effort to counter China’s growing influence in the Indo-Pacific region.
Speaking about the deal and China’s role, the British Defense Secretary said: He is expanding his navy [and] the air force at a tremendous rate. Obviously, he is involved in some contentious areas … Our partners in these regions want to be able to defend themselves. “
Although the AUKUS deal has yet to be implemented, global attention has shifted from West Asia to the Indo-Pacific in recent months following the withdrawal of US and allied forces from Afghanistan, as well as dying interest in events in Syria.
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The prospect of a new cold war in the region is quickly becoming a reality, with countries in the region, such as Malaysia, Indonesia and Japan, fearing the move could lead to a regional arms race.
The two Koreas have already stepped up their military might in recent weeks, with tests of hypersonic missiles in the North and ICBM-capable submarines revealed in the South.
As China is emerging as the world’s largest economy, due to overtake the United States by 2024, the race is on to secure a position on the world stage through a show of force, power and market power.