WASHINGTON — China showed off its new destroyers on Tuesday and sang praises for its rapidly modernizing Navy in a stellar ceremony in celebration of 70 years of the Peoples Liberation Army.
The Pentagon said no thanks to sending ships to participate in the international maritime parade, being the only notable snub. Among the 60 nations participating were naval vessels from Japan, South Korea, Russia, Vietnam, Singapore, India, Thailand and the Philippines.
The Pentagon sent a guided missile destroyer for the 60th anniversary ceremonies. Since then, tensions have risen between Beijing and Washington, primarily because of China’s militarization of contested islands in the South China and East China Sea.
Last year, the Pentagon withdrew an invitation to the Chinese navy to participate in the Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercises in response to that militarization. The Chinese navy is a component of the Peoples Liberation Army.
“The PLA is the principal threat to U.S. interests,” Adm. Philip Davidson, the commander of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, told the Senate Armed Services Committee in February.
The highlight of the naval parade was the unveiling of China’s home-built guided missile destroyer, as well as its new line of nuclear submarines. It was also the public debut of the Liaoning, the country’s first aircraft carrier; it was bought used from Ukraine in 1998 and refurbished in China.
Beijing’s lone aircraft carrier made in China is undergoing sea tests, according to news reports.