A simplified view of the PLAN maritime lines of communication between its major naval bases in southern China and its newly established oversees bases. The major island bases in the South China Sea are omitted from this map, but should be considered in gaining an accurate picture of Chinese maritime defense posture.
China has begun construction of the first Type 075 Landing Helicopter Dock (LHD) at the Shanghai based Hudong Zhonghua Shipbuilding Company. Construction most likely started in January or February of this year, with some satellite imagery and digital photos appearing online of at least one pre-fabricated hull cell. The Type 075 will be the largest amphibious warfare vessel in the Peoples’ Liberation Army Navy (PLAN), with similar displacement and dimensions as the U.S. Navy Wasp Class LHD. The PLA has also made it known through non-official channels that the force plans to expand the current PLA Marine Corps from 20,000 personnel to 100,000. As China completes preparations for its new military base in Djibouti, located in the strategic Horn of Africa, it has also continued its substantial investment in developing the port of Gwadar, Pakistan. Not only will Gwadar become a key logistics hub as part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and the “One Belt, One Road” trade initiative, but will also be a key naval base in providing security for China’s maritime trade in the region. Continue reading