Growing Chinese Navy Adds to Risk of Clashes in Asia’s Major Maritime Dispute

Taipei – A Chinese missile frigate returned last week from a five-day, friendly visit to the Philippines — days after a Chinese fleet had visited Cambodia and half a year after a Chinese state firm started taking bids to build a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, a sign of Beijing’s growing power at sea.

Multiple media outlets last week cited a Chinese Xinhua News Agency report saying the People’s Liberation Army ground forces had dwindled to less than half China’s total 2.26 million troops as the number at sea grew.

This mounting evidence of Chinese naval expansion will show first in the South China Sea, experts say, upsetting five other governments that dispute Beijing’s maritime sovereignty claims, and challenging U.S. defense for the weaker states.

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