Chinese Navy over Past Six Decades

The Chinese navy could be dated back to the late Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) about one century ago. However, it was littered with failures along coastlines, because of backward science and technology, political corruption, and declining national strength. In 1884, South China’s Fujian Fleet was wholly destroyed by the French counterpart at Majiang, near the provincial capital city Fuzhou. In like manner, in the Sino-Japanese War in 1894 and 1895, North China’s Beiyang Fleet was wiped out…. Before the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, foreign warships rampaged through Chinese territorial waters and inland rivers. China’s coastal defense was but an empty shell.

On April 23, 1949, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy was officially established, manifesting China eventually gained the control of sea. Over the past 60 years, the PLA Navy has grown steadily from the original 3,000 officers and men and 90-odd ships to a vital force of comprehensive modern maritime combat capabilities to defend the state's sovereignty over its territorial waters and safeguard the state's maritime rights and interests. It comprises such arms as the surface force, submarine, naval aviation, coastal defense and Marine Corps.

The PLA Navy safeguards state sovereignty, security and territorial integrity. It promotes China’s reform, opening up and modernization drive. It also acts as an envoy to safeguard world peace and promote common develpoment across the world. On November 16, 1985, a PLA Navy fleet made an unprecedented visit to three South Asian countries, marking the Chinese navy headed for the world. Chinese Navy Commander Wu Shengli said, “Over the past two decades, PLA Navy, envoy of peace and friendship, has sent 33 fleets to visit more than 30 countries across the world, including Russia, the United States and Japan.”

In December 2008, the PLA Navy sent a three-vessel flotilla to escort Chinese and foreign merchant ships in Somalia waters against pirates. It marks China has the capability to protect national interests and maintain security in the oceans of the world.