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China’s less threatening and more technically modest military hardware has been on display recently.
The PLAN’s guided missile destroyer Qingdao took part in a joint rescue drill with a British Royal Navy frigate on September 16th. This is just one of numerous joint exercises Beijing has taken part in with foreign navies over the past year.
This increased visibility is designed to carefully manage international perceptions of China’s military power, shaping an image of its armed forces as capable but non-threatening.
Beijing has therefore avoided showcasing the PLAN’s technologically advanced and menacing hardware in the hope that it can use less threatening military assets to soften the impact when more offensive abilities are revealed. It is in this context that recent low-level information and photo leaks concerning the Type 093 (Shang class) nuclear submarines should be perceived. China is known to have two of these Type 093 submarines, launched in 2002 and 2003. The Type 093 is China’s second generation nuclear submarine, replacing five obsolete first-generation Type 091 (Han-class) submarines.
China hopes that a subtle approach to achievements in military capabilities will temper concerns about its rise to naval great power status with a perception that these developments do not pose a threat.
For a photo of the Shang submarine, please follow the link - Shang class submarine photo.