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Global Times

PLA Navy's Type 055 large destroyer Lhasa holds 1st far sea drills in Sea of Japan

Global Times

By Liu Xuanzun Published: Jun 15, 2022 08:53 PM

China's second Type 055 large destroyer, the Lhasa, is reportedly holding its first far sea drills by entering the Sea of Japan, with experts saying on Wednesday that the ship has achieved full operational capability and demonstrated its capabilities in deterring possible foreign military interference in the Taiwan Straits at a time when the US and Japan have been repeatedly provoking China over the Taiwan question.

Japan's Maritime Self-Defense Force on Monday spotted a Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) flotilla consisting of three ships - the Lhasa, the Type 052D destroyer Chengdu and the Type 903 replenishment ship Dongpinghu - as they sailed through the Tsushima Strait from southwest to northeast toward the Sea of Japan, Japan's Ministry of Defense Joint Staff said in a press release late on Tuesday.

This was the first time the Lhasa has embarked on a far sea voyage since its commissioning into the PLA Navy in March 2021. Since the start of 2022, the ship has conducted a number of realistic combat scenario exercises in the Yellow Sea, with experts saying then that it was preparing for more important operations soon to come.

The latest voyage indicates that the Lhasa has reached 100 percent operational capability, and it can carry out military missions in the far sea as the core of a flotilla, Wei Dongxu, a Beijing-based military expert, told the Global Times on Wednesday.

Navigating in formation, air defense and anti-submarine could be among training objectives in the drills, which will show that the PLA Navy can safeguard China's strategic interests in the far sea, Wei said.

The Nanchang, the first hull in the Type 055-class, made several far sea voyages in 2021 that saw its flotillas training in the Sea of Japan, approaching the US state of Alaska and circumnavigating Japan almost entirely. As the second ship of the same class, the Lhasa could have similar voyages, observers said.

The US and Japan have been repeatedly provoking China over the Taiwan question recently, with the US selling arms, sending officials and making wrong remarks, and Japan claiming that Taiwan's security is Japan's concern, despite Taiwan being an inalienable part of China and the Taiwan question being China's internal affair.

With the flotilla led by the Lhasa, the PLA Navy displayed the combat capabilities of its advanced surface vessels, which will serve as a deterrent to "Taiwan independence" secessionist and foreign military interference forces, Wei said.

At a time when the US and the West are attempting to jointly contain China's development and Japan's right-wing militarists are on the rise again, China must be prepared to safeguard its national sovereignty, territorial integrity and development interests, analysts said.

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