China has deployed three new ships over the weekend to its naval forces stationed in the South China Sea, to enhanced capability on maritime support in the disputed waters, media reported.
This happened amid speculations that China started the mass production of its first ever stealth fighter, the J-20.
The three ships began serving the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) stationed in the Spratly Islands last Friday, it consist of transport and supply ship Luguhu, electronic reconnaissance ship Haiwangxing and the pelagic survey ship Qianxuesen. Navy Today reported, the PLA Navy’s official magazine.
The three ships’ deployment came as 47 Filipino youth protesters, mostly students, reached a disputed Philippine-held island in the Spratly called Pag-Asa Island.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said on Monday that China was “strongly dissatisfied” over what the Filipinos had done, repeatedly saying that China has indisputable claim over the Spratly Islands.
“We once again urge the Philippines to withdraw all its personnel and facilities from the islands that it is illegally occupying, and refrain from actions that are detrimental to regional peace and stability and not conducive to Sino-Philippines relations,” Mr Lu said.
China claims almost the entire South China Sea where Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam, Taiwan and Brunei also have claims. It is believed to have a huge oil and gas deposits in which about US$5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes each year.
A blurry photo of the what to believed as the J-20 or its prototype was released by Xinhua news agency on Sunday, saying it “may indicate the J-20 has moved from the test flight period to initial mass production”.
The J-20 is not expected to match the United States’ F-22 Raptor fighter jet in terms of performance any time soon as it is only powered by a relatively weak engine from Russia, South China Morning Post reported, but China is believed to be developing the J-20’s engine to make it stronger and powerful, it is estimated to be ready in 2019. -John Esconde