With historic visits to Denmark, Finland, and Sweden, the PLAN is breaking new ground.
A Chinese naval fleet is making the rounds of Nordic countries this week. A trio of People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) vessels – a missile destroyer, a missile frigate, and a replenishment ship – has visited Denmark, Finland, and Sweden in the past two weeks on goodwill visits. For each of those countries, it was the first time PLAN vessels had paid a port call.
According to China’s Ministry of Defense, PLAN Fleet 152 is on a “round-the-globe voyage” after wrapping up a four-month anti-piracy mission in the Gulf of Aden. Denmark, Finland, and Sweden were the third, fourth, and fifth stops (respectively) for the fleet, led by the guided-missile destroyer Jinan. The first two stops were Sudan and Egypt.
The tour of northern Europe fits with the PLAN’s wish to demonstrate its global capabilities, and also reflect China’s interest in the Arctic states. Denmark, Finland, and Sweden are all members of the Arctic Council, a group China joined as a permanent observer state in 2013. Since China is not an Arctic state itself, it will have to rely on close ties with regional countries to access natural resources (particularly oil and gas) that are slowly being made more accessible thanks to ice melts.
China also demonstrated a naval interest in the Arctic by passing through the Bering Sea in early September after joint military exercises with Russia. In both that case and this month’s PLAN tour of Nordic states, the PLAN is both demonstrating its capability to operate in new regions and signaling its interest in the Arctic region.
Full article: China’s Navy Makes First-Ever Tour of Europe’s Arctic States (The Diplomat)