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China's latest warships pose regional and US threat: Taiwan analyst

Su Tzu-yun says new submarine can launch missile strike on US west coast from South China Sea

Chinese navy ships. 

Chinese navy ships.  (AP photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Three new Chinese navy warships demonstrate the communist country's intention to become a major maritime power and challenge the United States, according to a senior analyst at the Institute for National Defense and Security Research (INDSR).

On Saturday (April 24), General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Xi Jinping attended a handover ceremony in Hainan for a trio of new navy warships. They comprise the Type 094A ballistic missile nuclear submarine Changzheng 18, Type 055 guided-missile destroyer Dalian, and the Type 075 amphibious assault ship Hainan.

In an interview with CNA, INDSR analyst Su Tzu-yun (蘇紫雲) responded to news of China's recent maritime advances. He noted that ballistic missiles from the nuclear submarine would enable China to launch an attack on the U.S. west coast from the South China Sea.

Characterizing the CCP’s maritime strategy as "defensive in the north and offensive in the south,” Su said that China is constrained by Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan in the north and east — which is unfavorable for large-scale fleet maneuvers. Thus, the Chinese navy has deployed its three new ships in the south.

Su said the main reason for this is related to the development of its nuclear strategy. He noted that Beijing has actively increased its nuclear forces, producing advanced submarine-launched intercontinental ballistic missiles, while the deep waters of the South China Sea are suited to concealing such weapons.

Additionally, he speculated that if the CCP decided to attack Taiwan, it could formulate a new strategy. This would see its Eastern Theater Command strike Taiwan, while its Southern Theater Command could conduct exterior lines of operation and hit Taiwan as well.

Su said the Hainan is the first ship in its class to weigh 40,000 tons, allowing it to carry 30 helicopters and hovercraft, three infantry battalions, and two tank companies. He said the Dalian is only the second ship of its class and its main function is to escort carrier strike groups and amphibious assault groups, adding the Hongqi 9 long-range air defense missiles deployed on the ship have a range of 200 kilometers.

Meanwhile, the Changzheng 18 is an improved version of the Type 094 nuclear submarine but is more silent underwater. Su added the most significant improvement is the "turtleback" missile magazine, allowing the vessel to carry the Julang-3 submarine-launched ballistic missile — which has a range of about 12,000 km.