Chinese Navy Gets Stealth Frigate Amid Broader Military Advance

China’s navy received the first of its new frigate line as part of a military modernization campaign, the People’s Liberation Daily said, amid a dispute with Japan over East China Sea islands claimed by both sides.

The frigate, delivered in Shanghai yesterday, has stealth capabilities, will be responsible for patrol escort, and can carry out anti-submarine warfare, the PLA Daily said. Admiral Wu Shengli, a member of the Central Military Commission, attended the ceremony.

The frigate’s delivery is part of a wider military advance that’s seen China commission its first aircraft carrier and enhance its jet-fighter program. It comes after Chinese and Japanese vessels have tailed each other for months around the islands, raising tensions and straining a $340 billion trade relationship.

“This kind of defense frigate eyes a change of the old, single-function, low combat capability of our current defense system,” the article said, adding that the upgrade will boost China’s combat effectiveness and ability to defend its territory.

China’s military is also seeking to stamp out corruption as it modernizes. Corruption in the military undermines the army’s effectiveness, a retired major general, Luo Yuan, write in a commentary of the Chinese version of the state-owned Global Times newspaper today.

“Combat effectiveness is more undermined by corruption than anything,” Luo wrote. “It is hard to imagine that a corrupt army can vanquish the enemy and win victory.”

China’s defense spending, the second highest in the world after the U.S., was set to grow 11.2 percent to 670 billion yuan ($106.4 billion) in 2012. The country will announce its 2013 figure just before the annual meeting of its legislature begins next week.

— With assistance by Henry Sanderson

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