China's new guided missile destroyer ready for debut: report
Central News Agency
Taipei, Dec. 24 (CNA) The appearance of a picture of China's second 052D guided missile destroyer on the Internet recently has aroused speculations in China that the country's most advanced version of the warship is ready for the sea.
The television station HBTV in Hubei Province, central China reported that the vessel in the picture was decorated with Chinese flags and other trappings which suggested that it was ready for launch.
It was not unusual for China to release pictures of its new self-developed weapons to Internet users before confirming their existence, said HBTV.
A political commentator Zhang Bin told HBTV that the launch of the destroyer will be a milestone in China's naval buildup, as it will send a veiled warning to other countries, especially Japan, which is embroiled in a territory dispute with China over the Diaoyutai Islands, an archipelago in the East China Sea.
Noting that Shinzo Abe, the president of Japan's Liberal Democratic Party, said after his party won the Dec. 16 parliament election that Japan's sovereignty over the Diaoyutais is beyond dispute, Zhang said the launch of China's second 052D destroyer will obviously force Abe to lower his voice when making similar claims in the future.
The surfacing of the picture on the Internet after Abe's remarks could not be a coincidence, said Zhang.
He recalled that a picture of China's first aircraft carrier Liaoning appeared on the Internet Sept. 25, shortly after U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta visited Beijing.
A picture of China's stealth fighter jet J-31 was posted on the Internet Nov. 5 during the peak of the Sino-Japanese dispute over the Diaoyutais.
And a picture showing the successful test flight of China's J-15 fighter jets on its aircraft carrier appeared Nov. 25, shortly after U.S. President Barrack Obama visited three Southeast Asian countries, including China's close allies Myanmar and Cambodia.
As a successor of the 052C, the 052D destroyer was billed as China's version of the Aegis, the U.S. state-of-the-art warship. It is equipped with 64 vertical missile launch cells, allowing for quick firing of anti-air, anti-ship and ground-attack missiles which is sure to change the regional military balance significantly.
(By Charles Kang and Maubo Chang)
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