Report on China's unmanned submarines overblown, confrontational: expert

Global Times
Yao Jianing

A report that China is developing unmanned submarines to "challenge Western naval powers," was slammed by Chinese experts as overblown and confrontational.

China's large unmanned submarines will be able to perform missions including reconnaissance, mine placement and suicide attacks via artificial intelligence, the South China Morning Post reported on Sunday.

They are expected to be deployed in the early 2020s, the Hong Kong-based newspaper said.

Many countries are developing unmanned submarines, and China is only one of them, a submarine expert, who asked not to be named, told the Global Times on Monday.

However, such a submarine - capable of carrying out multiple missions as the report suggested - does not exist as of yet, the expert noted, adding that even if one had reached the experimental phase, it was still far off deployment.

It is normal for China to develop such weapons to safeguard its sovereignty and territorial integrity. The development is not directed against any specific country, Zhang Junshe, a senior research fellow at the People's Liberation Army Naval Military Studies Research Institute, told the Global Times on Monday.

The South China Morning Post reported that China will use the unmanned submarines to challenge the advantageous position established by Western naval powers in strategic waters like the South China Sea and western Pacific Ocean.

The report echoed "rhetoric of the China threat theory" and was "trying to create a confrontational atmosphere between China and the US," Zhang said.

"The US is by far leading the world in the development of unmanned submarines, and so it is an exaggeration to say that China is challenging the advantageous position established by Western naval powers," he said.

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