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China’s navy has started trials on its second trademark warship as tensions between the Communist nation and the US continue to rise in the fiercely contested South China Sea.
The People’s Liberation Army has ordered a total of eight Type 075 assault ships, which are capable of carrying 30 attack helicopters and 900 troops, according to a Newsweek report.
On Tuesday, a second Type 075 was seen departing the Hudong Zhonghua Shipyard in Shanghai, just four months after the maiden voyage of the first vessel.
State-owned media have bragged about the rapid construction, likening it to “cooking dumplings,” and say the fleet will fortify their response to military skirmishes in the region, the report said.
The United States has labeled China’s contested claims on the sea’s vast natural resources “unlawful” and has condemned the nation’s large military presence there.
The South China Sea has vast economic importance, carrying a third of the world’s shipping, worth approximately $3 billion, while also being home to large oil and gas reserves.
China claims 90 percent of the sea, but Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also lay claim to parts of it.
Beijing has built military bases atop atolls in the region but maintains its intentions are “peaceful.”
Earlier this year, the US Commerce Department blacklisted two dozen Chinese companies for assisting the Chinese Communist Party in building artificial islands in the South China Sea, a move the US views as military provocation.
This week, the People’s Liberation Army claimed that it “expelled” the US destroyer USS John S. McCain from waters off the disputed Spratly islands — a charge the Pentagon denied.
“The United States will continue to fly, sail and operate wherever international law allows, as USS John S McCain did here,” said 7th Fleet spokesman Lt. Joe Keiley.
“All nations, large and small, should be secure in their sovereignty, free from coercion, and able to pursue economic growth consistent with accepted international rules and norms,” he added.
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