PLA’s Newest Amphibious Assault Ship Anhui Joined ‘Combat-Oriented’ Drills, Chinese Media Says

Sputnik News


Fantine Gardinier

China’s amphibious forces have expanded rapidly in recent years, with its Marine Corps tripling in size and the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) commissioning a slew of new assault ships, including three Type 075 helicopter carriers.

The third Type 075 warship, Anhui, recently took part in “combat-oriented training,” according to Chinese media, which said it proved the Anhui had entered active service with the Chinese navy. A report on Weibo said the ship was “fully upgrading its combat readiness and war-fighting capabilities.”

The Anhui thus joins the Guangxi and the Hainan, the other two Type 075 ships, in buttressing the PLAN’s blue-water power projection. The Type 075 is China’s first amphibious assault ship, also called a landing helicopter dock (LHD): a type of helicopter carrier that is also capable of disembarking significant marine assault forces.

It has six helicopter landing pads on its flight deck and can carry up to 30 choppers, as well as 1,000 marines and their equipment, plus either 35 amphibious vehicles or three hovercraft. The Type 075s are 40,000 tons displacement – roughly the size of the largest World War II aircraft carriers and nearly equal in size to the US Navy’s Wasp-class and America-class LHDs.

In addition to the Type 075s, China is also believed to be developing a version with a catapult on its flight deck for launching drones, dubbed the Type 076. The PLAN also has three aircraft carriers, the newest and largest of which, the Type 002, is still being fitted out at the shipyard in Shanghai.

The rapid expansion of China’s amphibious forces alongside the deteriorating situation around Taiwan have increased anxieties on the autonomous island and in the West that Beijing may be preparing to make a military move. China views the island as a Chinese province destined to be reunited with the mainland, and US support for a pro-separatist government in Taipei has created parallel anxieties in China that the island may soon attempt to declare independence.

US support for Taipei has been denounced by Beijing as meddling in China’s internal affairs. The bedrock of US-China relations since they were established in 1979 has been Washington’s acceptance of Beijing’s position on Taiwan, although the US has continued to informally funnel weapons to Taipei.

Earlier this week, Gen. Mark A. Milley, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, claimed Chinese President Xi Jinping had “taken a step back” from plans to invade Taiwan after seeing the difficulties Russia has encountered in its special operation in Ukraine, and that the PLA is “probably evaluating the situation and recalculating what they might do.”

Beijing has not dismissed the possibility of forcibly reuniting Taiwan with the mainland, but sees that as a last resort. It has proposed a peaceful reunification under a “One Country, Two Systems” arrangement, similar to that used to reincorporate Macau and Hong Kong into China after decades of foreign rule.

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John Pike