Chinese state television has broadcast a video showing off the capabilities of the country’s submarines, in what defence analysts say is a response to the United States’ increased naval activity in the Indo-Pacific region.
The eight-minute film, shown by China Central Television on Thursday, included footage of the Type 093B submarine – a modified version of the Type 093 – simulating an engagement with an enemy ship and firing a torpedo at it.
Its release came two days after the USS Mustin – an Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer – sailed through the Taiwan Strait, a strategically significant waterway that separates Taiwan from the Chinese mainland.
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Macau-based military observer Antony Wong Tong said the timing of the video’s release was clearly intended to send a message to Washington.
“The Type 093B is powerful enough to be a threat to US warships because it is equipped with YJ-18 anti-ship cruise missiles,” he said.
“They are combat-ready to deal with an American opponent.”
As well as YJ-18 anti-ship cruise missiles, the submarines are fitted with anti-ship variants of the CJ-10 cruise missiles that have a range of up to 540km (335 miles).
Although the Type 093B’s capabilities have been public knowledge for years – Chinese President Xi Jinping went to see one for himself in 2018 – the new video is the first to show it in full operation, complete with shots of its crew.
Lu Li-shih, a former instructor at Taiwan’s Naval Academy in Kaohsiung, said the Type 093 was fitted with advanced technology to help it locate and track enemy vessels, while also evading detection.
A book by former US Navy captain Jerry Hendrix published in 2016 likened the Type 093 to the US Navy’s Los Angeles-class Flight I and Flight III submarines in terms of stealthiness.
“The 93B is not to be confused with the 93. It is a transition platform between the 93 and the forthcoming 95 … and shows China is learning quickly about how to build a modern fast attack boat,” he said.
The CCTV broadcast also included footage of the PLA’s Type 094, which is a nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine capable of firing JL-2 missiles with a range of more than 7,000km, Lu said.
“As the US deployed its B-1 Lancer and B-2 Spirit strategic bombers to the Indo-Pacific, and conducted flights through the East and South China seas over the past few months, the PLA is showing it won’t be deterred by ‘nuclear blackmail’.”
More from South China Morning Post:
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- Chinese navy may launch eighth Type 055 stealth destroyer later this year
- Vietnam warns Chinese bomber on disputed islands in South China Sea ‘jeopardises peace’
This article US-China relations: Chinese submarines put through their paces in promotional video first appeared on South China Morning Post