The Chinese navy has put into service a domestic-made advanced missile frigate in the East China Sea, upgrading the force’s combat capabilities amid rising maritime tensions.
Xiangtan, named after Mao Zedong’s hometown, entered service with the East Sea Fleet on Wednesday in Zhoushan, Zhejiang province.
The Type 054A frigate, which has a displacement of more than 4,000 tonnes, has long range surveillance and strong air defence capabilities, according to state news agency Xinhua.
The news came a day after a senior US military official said China was “militarising” the South China Sea.
Although the new ship will be stationed in the East China Sea, the high level of publicity granted to it was a response to recent diplomatic tussling with the US, said military analyst Ni Lexiong.
China has deployed eight Type 054A frigates in the East China Sea, while another eight were sent to the South China Sea between 2007 and 2014.
“The US destroyers’ patrols in the South China Sea are seen as showing off and provocative,” said Ni.
In recent months, two US guided-missile destroyers have sailed within 12 nautical miles of Chinese controlled islands in the South China Sea.
Type 054A frigates can attack enemy ships and submarines alone or in coordination with other naval forces, Xinhua said.