East-Asia-Intel.com, April 25, 2012
Of all the weapons platforms available to China’s military forces in the South China Sea, the PLA Navy’s 70-plus submarine fleet is the most lethal.
If a war were to break out in the area, the U.S. could only track about half of China’s submarines, which would allow the PLA Navy to exert overwhelming deterrence within a very short period of time and deal the U.S. Navy a deadly blow.
Furthermore, China’s subterranean submarine bases in Hainan Island would enable PLA Navy submarines to reach the deep sea area within 20 minutes, enabling them to control the entire region.
This is the conclusion of a rare report on China’s submarine forces published April 20 by the state-run hinews.cn, the online version of the Hainan Daily, the mouthpiece of Hainan Province’s Communist Party. Hainan Province is the home base of China’s largest submarine fleet, located at the southern tip of the Hainan Island.
The report confirms what U.S. intelligence has observed with regard to the PLA Navy’s recent deployments during the tense standoff between Chinese maritime surveillance vessels and Philippine naval ships near Scarborough Shoals near the southern edge of the South China Sea.
The report coincides with the publication of another article in the official People’s Daily calling for a small-scale war with the Philippines over the Scarborough Shoal standoff.
“China should try to seize more initiative in this process, rather than being led by other regional players," the People’s Daily article stated. "China should be prepared to engage in a small-scale war at sea with the Philippines. Once the war erupts, China must take resolute action and deliver a clear message to the outside world that it does not want a war, but definitely has no fear of it.”
In fact, according to hinews.cn, at least one of the three PLA Navy’s Type 094 Jin-class nuclear-powered ballistic missile carrying submarines (SSBNs) stationed at the Sanya submarine base has been deployed to the South China Sea for patrol duty.
The SSBN is China’s strategic deterrence weapons platform. Earlier this year, it was reported that a new type of submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) called Julang-II was successfully test fired from a Jin-class SSBN. It has a reported range of 8,000 kilometers, or about 5,000 miles.