PLA warships reportedly sailing near Alaska, “deployment of high seas capabilities or countermeasures against US provocation”

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The photo taken on Jan.12, 2020 shows the commissioning ceremony of the Nanchang, China’s first type 055 guided missile destroyer, in the port city of Qingdao, east China’s Shandong Province. The Nanchang commission marks the navy’s transition from the third generation to the fourth generation of destroyers, according to a navy statement. Photo: Xinhua

A website affiliated with the US Department of Defense reported on Sunday that a Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) naval flotilla, comprising one of China’s most powerful warships, recently sailed in the international waters near Alaska. However, the report was suppressed on Monday for unknown reasons.

If the report is true, the activities of Chinese warships are probably normal training off the coast amid the rapid development of such capabilities by the PLA navy, Chinese analysts said on Monday, noting that this could also be considered. as a countermeasure against US military provocations against China. doors in the name of freedom of navigation.

A four-ship PLA navy task force, comprising a guided-missile cruiser, a guided-missile destroyer, a general intelligence vessel and an auxiliary vessel navigated international waters within the exclusive economic zone of the United States, off the coast of the Aleutian Islands in Alaska, on August 29 and 30, the United States Department of Defense reported on Sunday on the website of the Defense Visual Information Distribution Service (DVIDS) a statement from District 17 of the United States Coast Guard.

Although the DVIDS report did not name the four PLA ships, military observers said it was likely the same flotilla that sailed east through the Soya Strait into the Pacific Ocean on August 24, as the timing and location would logically match.

On August 24, the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force spotted a PLA navy flotilla consisting of four warships, the Type 055 destroyer. Nanchang, the Type 052D destroyer Guiyang, a Type 903A supply vessel with hull number 903 and a patrol vessel with hull number 799, which crossed the Soya Strait from the Sea of ​​Japan and then sailed east, the state said. – Joint Chiefs of the Japanese Defense Ministry in a press release on August 25. .

China and many countries classify the Type 055 as a destroyer, but the United States considers it a cruiser.

During the activities of the PLA warships near Alaska, the United States Coast Guard Bertholf and Kimball also operated in the area, the DVIDS report said, noting that interactions between U.S. and Chinese ships were safe and professional, and that verbal communications met international standards set out in the code for unplanned encounters at sea in the Western Pacific Naval Symposium. and the Convention on the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea.

The DVIDS report became unavailable Monday for unknown reasons.

China has yet to announce any related information on Monday evening.

Assuming the US report to be true, the PLA naval flotilla operated in international waters, which means it could be normal high seas training and Chinese ships did not show no sign of aggression or provocation, Wei Dongxu, a Beijing-based military expert, told the Global Times on Monday.

The flotilla, led by the Type 055 10,000-ton class destroyer, showed the PLA navy’s rapid development in deep-sea capabilities, as Chinese warships were expected to train in more distant waters and unknown in the future, Wei said, noting that the United States has sent coastguards because it is wary of the presence of Chinese warships near the country, especially advanced destroyers like the Type 055.

United States warships have made frequent provocations near China in the name of freedom of navigation and now it might be a little uncomfortable to see Chinese warships at its gates, said Wei, stressing that “this is a countermeasure and a signal against the United States. Acts of hegemony.”

As to why the United States suppressed the report, a Chinese military expert who asked to remain anonymous told the Global Times on Monday that there may have been factual errors. If the report is true, the United States might feel like it has lost face by having Chinese warships sailing nearby, taking some of its own freedom of navigation medicine.

This is not the first time that the PLA navy has sent warships to the region. In 2015, five PLA navy ships transited rapidly and continuously through the Aleutian Islands chain in a manner consistent with international law, the US Naval Institute News reported at the time. It was an “innocent passage” within 12 nautical miles of the Aleutian Islands, according to the report.

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