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‘China’s nuke submarines in Gulf of Aden could cause unease’

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Beijing:  China for the first time has divulged the deployment of a nuclear submarine for anti-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden, a move defence experts say could cause unease among neighbours, including India.

Chinese official media said that a nuclear submarine of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy accompanied the anti-piracy mission in the Gulf of Aden patrolled the area for more than two months, escorting two ships and a supply vessel.

The submarine stated to be Type 091 has since returned to its base in Qingdao, Shandong province.

CCTV interviewed Deputy Commander Yu Zhengqiang, who said the crew had to overcome many obstacles during the mission.

“First, there were concerns about all the equipment and facilities, and second [we had to] deal with various challenges while sailing in totally unknown waters, which was complicated by military intelligence issues,” Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post quoted Yu as saying.

Military analysts said the deployment would cause unease among China’s neighbours.

Beijing may deploy more vessels to far-flung regions as it broadens its political and investment interests overseas, it said.

Hsieh Tai-hsi, secretary general of the Taipei-based Society for Strategic Studies, said the deployment would concern both the United States and countries in the region, particularly India.

He said India was already concerned about Pakistan’s deal to buy eight Chinese submarines and China’s involvement in port projects in South Asia.

“But more importantly, through the mission, the PLA was able to cooperate with vessels from other countries, thereby allowing it to evaluate the capabilities and performances of the navies of these countries,” he told the Post.

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