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China Navy intensifies its presence in South China Sea amid tensions with US.

According to information published by Global Times on May 9, 2024, the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy has intensified its presence in the South China Sea.
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PLA Navy's Type 055 destroyer Wuxi. (Picture source: Chinese MoD)

A detachment from the PLA Southern Theater Command recently assembled a task force, including the Type 055 destroyer Zunyi, Type 052C destroyer Haikou, Type 052D destroyer Kunming, and Type 054A frigate Xianning, for a comprehensive combat exercise in the South China Sea, as reported by China Central Television (CCTV). The exercise encompassed anti-ship, anti-air, and anti-submarine operations.

On May 2, Philippine media reported the passage of four PLA Navy vessels, including the Type 055 destroyer Dalian, through the Sibutu Passage. This crucial channel connects the Sulu Sea with the Sulawesi Sea and serves as a vital transit route for international trade between the Pacific and Indian Oceans.

Earlier, on April 21, CCTV highlighted the conclusion of a combat patrol and far seas exercise mission by a task force led by the Type 055 destroyer Xianyang in the South China Sea, the eastern Indian Ocean, and the western Pacific Ocean.

As of 2024, the PLA Navy has commissioned eight Type 055 large destroyers, with four assigned to the Southern Theater Command, which oversees operations in the South China Sea. These vessels, boasting a displacement of over 10,000 tons and the capability to operate in distant seas, are well-suited for diverse missions across the South China Sea, eastern Indian Ocean, and western Pacific Ocean.

Their frequent presence in the South China Sea coincides with recent tensions involving the Philippines and the US, who conducted their largest Balikatan combat exercises in years from April 22 to May 10.

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