September 24, 2014

PLA sub's Sri Lanka visit suggests China projecting power into Indian Ocean

A Song-class submarine. (Internet photo)
A Song-class submarine. (Internet photo)
Staff Reporter 2014-09-25 09:13 (GMT+8)

The Changzheng 2, a Type 091 Han-class nuclear-powered submarine has become the first Chinese submarine to visit Colombo Harbor in Sri Lanka according to the website of state-run Sri Lanka News on Sept. 15.

The Chinese submarine arrived at Colombo Harbor one day before Chinese president Xi Jinping began his visit to the country on Sept. 16. In addition to the Changzheng 2, there were two other People's Liberation Army Navy warships in the harbour.

The Changzheng 2 is currently under the command of the PLA Navy's North Sea Fleet. Equipped with C-801 anti-ship missiles, it is capable of attacking targets 80 kilometers away.

Duowei News, a media outlet operated by overseas Chinese, cited photos published by the Sri Lankan state news organization, suggesting that the Changzheng 2 is no longer in the service of the PLA Navy. Duowei News stated that the submarine that visited Colombo Harbor on Sept. 15 was in fact a Type 039 Song-class conventional submarine. The North Sea Fleet's Changxingdao submarine salvage vessel was also there to accompany the submarine.

Duowei said that this is the first time that a Chinese submarine has visited a nation in the Indian Ocean openly. Xi Jinping is the first Chinese leader to visit Sri Lanka in 28 years even though he was only there for one day. Taken together with the joint naval exercises with Iran launched Wednesday, this seems to suggest China's ambitions to project its military power into the Indian Ocean, according to Duowei.

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