South China Sea: More ‘confrontation’ to come predicts expert
The Hainan, a type 075 amphibious assault ship, has been commissioned by Beijing and is expected to be deployed in the South China Sea. Military experts have suggested the deployment will cause concern with Taiwan and other countries in maritime disputes with China.
Chinese state media outlets reported the vessel was commissioned on Friday by President Xi Jinping.
Reports claimed he attended a ceremony at a naval base in Sanya in Hainan province, where the Hainan was placed into active service.
The assault ship is estimated to have a capacity of 30 helicopters and hundreds of troops.
The Hainan marks Beijing’s most ‘ambitious’ amphibious assault ship with an estimated displacement weight of about 40,000 tonnes, according to reports.
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It comes as the Philippines’ foreign ministry hit out at Beijing after it failed to withdraw what it called on Friday “threatening” vessels that were massing in contested areas of the South China Sea.
Philippine foreign ministry said maritime officials had observed the “continued unauthorised presence and activities” of 160 Chinese fishing and militia vessels around the disputed Spratly islands and Scarborough shoal, as of April 20.
They said: “The continued swarming and threatening presence of the Chinese vessels creates an atmosphere of instability and is a blatant disregard of the commitments by China to promote peace and stability in the region.”
President Rodrigo Duterte also stated he was prepared to send his military ships in the South China Sea to “stake a claim” over oil and mineral resources in the disputed part of the strategic waterway.