China adds spy ship to Navy fleet

China's Navy has added a new model of electronic reconnaissance ship to its fleet, CNS Kaiyangxing or Mizar.

Story highlights

  • Announcement of new electronic surveillance ship a rare move for China's military
  • China's Navy added 18 ships last year, report says

(CNN)China's Navy has added a new model of electronic reconnaissance ship to its fleet, as Beijing seeks to assert its military might in the South China Sea.

The CNS Kaiyangxing or Mizar went into service earlier this week in the eastern port city of Qingdao, the China Daily reported.
    The paper said divulging details of its intelligence fleet was "a rare move" for the People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN.)
    Collin Koh Swee Lean, a research fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, said that revealing the ship's launch served two geopolitical purposes.
    The Kaiyangxing has a maximum speed of  20 knots, or 37 kilometers per hour.
    "Beijing can claim that it has been transparent with its military buildup, and this helps feed the strategic narrative about having a defensive defense policy that it upholds," he said.
    "Second, this serves as a form of deterrence against would-be adversaries. I suspect this is also a signal to the US -- or anyone else keen to ramp up naval activities in the disputed waters -- that the PLAN has the capability to monitor their activities."
    However, Lean said that the vessel was not a combat ship and would be vulnerable without proper protection by other forces.
    The South China Sea has become a political hot potato between Washington and Beijing as China has built up military bases on disputed islands in the contested waters.
    The CNS Kaiyangxing or Mizar went into service earlier this week in the eastern port city of Qingdao.
    President-elect Donald Trump has shown himself to be increasingly willing to challenge Beijing over a range of issues, making ties between the two countries volatile.
    The report said the PLA Navy commissioned a total of 18 ships in 2016. It is also building a domestically designed aircraft carrier in Dalian.
    The paper said that Navy operates six electronic surveillance vessels. It said the Kaiyangxing had a maximum speed of 20 knots, or 37 kilometers per hour.