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China Military Transformation ep.7: Captains see rise towards world-class force

Reporter: Ge Yunfei 丨 CCTV.com

10-08-2016 04:03 BJT

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Over the past two decades, China’s navy has been undergoing a major shift – from  coastal defense to greater responsibilities on the high seas. In a visit to one of China’s premier combat destroyer flotillas, CCTV reporter Ge Yunfei spoke with two warship Commanding Officers to find out how do they feel about the changes.

On the choppy waters somewhere in the East China Sea, a warship is conducting a military drill.

Guided-Missile Frigate Jingzhou is one of the latest ships commissioned in the People’s Liberation Army navy. Domestic-designed and built, the ship is a proof that China is aiming to be a world class navy.

Thousands of kilometers away from China’s shore lies the Gulf of Aden. Since 2008, the Chinese navy has carried out 24 batches of anti-piracy and escort missions in that sea area in order to safeguard maritime transportation line for Chinese vessels

Captain Wang Hongbing, commanding officer of Frigate Jingzhou, is a regular executor of the missions.

"On an average, we have to sail at least twenty days per month," Captain Wang said.

From a sailor to a captain. Wang has served in the navy for over twenty years.
Today, taking global missions has become a new normal. That means, according to Wang, the Chinese navy has to bid goodbye to its old responsibilities and system.

"With a list of growing tasks, we have to change our traditional training pattern from a purely training-type to one based on the capabilities that can carry out tasks and missions," Captain Wang said.

Another witness to this change is Captain Liu Sumin. He was among the first batch of naval officers China sent overseas in 1998 to study modern destroyers.

"In the early 1990s when I first joined the navy, our ships couldn’t sail far, see far, and strike far. Frankly speaking, seeing all the cutting-edge weapons of other big power navies at that time, we were a little bit embarrassed," Captain Liu said.

Today, Captain Liu is the commanding officer of Destroyer Fuzhou, one of China’s largest missile destroyers, and also a major firepower of China’s naval force.

"Being a warship captain has always been my dream since college. Since 2001, this ship has launched over 30 various real missiles—whcih cannot be imagined in the past. Being proud and confident: that’s what I feel right now," Captain Liu said.

This destroyer has been serving in the navy for 16 years. Witnessing the rise of the Chinese navy, Captain Liu said many years on the high seas have taught him what it really means to be a marine.

Though more and more warships have been enlisted into the navy, ships docking at bay have become fewer and fewer. Average Days at sea have doubled in recent years. That leaves Capt. Liu and his crew with less than two months out of a year to see their families.

"The first quality of a naval officer is the spirit of hard-working and sacrifice. Otherwise it’ll be very difficult to stay onboard the ship for a prolonged period. You have to deal with all the problems like work pressure, security concerns and family issues," Captain Liu said.

As China is becoming a major maritime power, Captain Liu said he felt fortunate to be part of this history. And the thing that makes him sail further is the call of duty.

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