CHINA / MILITARY
PLA Navy’s birthday photo album shows decades of hardship, confidence, and ambition
Published: Apr 23, 2021 10:55 PM
Photo:Web

Photo:Screenshot of a commemorative photo gallery published by the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy


A US-shot image has become the "Easter egg" of a commemorative photo gallery published by the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy on its 72nd birthday on Friday. Experts said it reveals the PLA Navy's "blue ocean" path and that the US Navy should not be surprised about increasing encounters with the Chinese Navy in the future.

Friday marks the 72nd anniversary of the founding of the PLA Navy. According to the content from the abstracts of the photo gallery published on the PLA Navy's WeChat public account on Friday, the PLA Navy is trying to show its 72 years of transformation, from small fishing boats to an independently built aircraft carrier, through 72 photos since 1949.

The "Easter egg" that appears in the photo collection is an image released by the US Navy on April 11, which recorded two US officers sitting on the USS Mustin watching China's Liaoning aircraft carrier a few thousand meters away in a very relaxed manner ̶ even with one officer's feet up. 

The picture was seen as a provocative sign by some observers, amid the increasing tensions in the Taiwan Straits and the South China Sea, as some media said it shows US Navy treating its Chinese counterpart "lightly."

A naval fleet comprised of the guided-missile destroyers Ningbo (Hull 139) and Taiyuan (Hull 131), as well as the guided-missile frigate Nantong (Hull 601), steams in astern formation in waters of the East China Sea during a maritime training drill in late January, 2021. Photo:China Military Online

A naval fleet comprised of the guided-missile destroyers Ningbo (Hull 139) and Taiyuan (Hull 131), as well as the guided-missile frigate Nantong (Hull 601), steams in astern formation in waters of the East China Sea during a maritime training drill in late January, 2021. Photo:China Military


The caption for the picture on the PLA Navy's birthday gallery, however, describes it simply as "the PLA navy's aircraft carrier Liaoning having a close encounter with a US navy destroyer in the Philippine Sea," pointing out that the Liaoning's patrol was a routine exercise. 

Meanwhile, the US Navy's caption reads "the captain and the executive officer of the USS Mustin observe the Chinese aircraft carrier Liaoning in the Philippine Sea on April 4." 

"The people's navy is guarding the vast maritime frontiers of the motherland with greater strength," reads the PLA Navy photo gallery. 

Experts said the 'specially selected' photo that represents the year of 2021 is an unofficial response to the US, which demonstrates the confidence and openness of the PLA Navy.

The photo illustrates the fact that after 72 years of development, the PLA Navy has gone from looking up to its US counterparts to viewing them as equals, Song Zhongping, a Chinese mainland military expert and TV commentator, told the Global Times on Friday.

It also outlines the hardship the PLA Navy encountered on its path of development over the past few decades, Song said. 

Liaoning is China's first aircraft carrier and the most typically representative of the development of the PLA Navy. Analysts said the photo, shot in the Philippine Sea, also shows the PLA Navy's path from the "yellow sea" to the "blue ocean."

No matter whether in China's coastal waters, middle and far seas, or far ocean, the PLA Navy and the US Navy will meet in a normal way regularly, said Song, noting that the US Navy "should not be surprised about that, but have to get used to it."

As strategy shifts, the PLA Navy may sail to more places that the US might not believe it can, said Song, noting that the US needs to view the development of the PLA Navy objectively and re-conceptualize the Chinese navy's capabilities.

One day earlier, the PLA Navy released its commemoration video for its 72nd birthday on Thursday, which also depicts the development of the Chinese navy in a timeline. 

China's first 10,000-ton class destroyer, the Type 055 Nanchang, appeared in the promotional video. "The helplessness of smaller ships fighting larger ones has become a thing of the past," the video said.


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