The Shiyan-6, or Experiment-6, a geophysical and seismic survey ship owned by the Chinese Academy of Sciences was launched in Guangzhou in Northwest China on Saturday. State news agency Xinhua says the £56 million vessel is expected to be commissioned next year and will be used for research including on geophysics, ocean physics, sea-air interaction and marine chemistry in areas including the South China Sea.
It is understood that the ship will also be used to collect data on topography, landforms, currents, and biomes in extreme environments such as deep trenches.
Long Lijuan, deputy director of the academy’s South China Sea Institute of Oceanology, told Xinhua: “It will help to safeguard China’s state sovereignty and also its maritime rights and interests, increasing the country’s building of maritime power.”
Xinhua says the ship will carry a crew of up to 60 people and will be able to spend up to two months at sea.
But at the same time, China’s embassy in Myanmar yesterday accused the United States of outrageously smearing the country and driving a wedge with its Southeast Asian neighbours over the contested South China Sea and Hong Kong.
Relations between Washington and Beijing are also currently strained over matters ranging from coronavirus to future trade deals as well as Hong Kong’s new security law.
Hong Kong’s new security law sets the stage for the most radical changes to the former British colony’s way of life since it returned to Chinese rule 23 years ago.
But is feared by international governments including the US that the legislation will crush the global financial hub’s freedoms.
Responding to US claims Beijing was undermining the sovereignty of its neighbours, the Chinese embassy said US agencies abroad were doing “disgusting things” to contain China.
The US last week hardened its position on the South China Sea claiming it would back countries in the region that challenge Beijing’s claim to approximately 90 percent of the strategic waterway.
In a statement on Saturday, the US embassy in Yangon called China’s actions in the South China Sea and Hong Kong, where Beijing has imposed tough new national security laws, part of a “larger pattern to undermine the sovereignty of its neighbours”.
The statement drew parallels between China’s actions in the South China Sea and Hong Kong with large-scale Chinese investments projects in Myanmar that the United States warned could become debt-traps.
It added: “This is how modern sovereignty is often lost – not through dramatic, overt action, but through a cascade of smaller ones that lead to its slow erosion over time.”
Iain Duncan Smith SNAPS after Brexit Britain trade warning [REVEAL]
Cold war fears – Could UK and China tensions trigger Cold War? [JUST IN]
North Korea cult: Kim’s ‘ethnically pure’ dystopian autocracy exposed [INSIGHT]
In its rebuke, China said the statement showed a “sour grapes” attitude by the United States towards “flourishing China-Myanmar relations”.
It stressed that it was “another farce on a global tour by the US authorities to shift the attention on domestic problems and seek selfish political gains”.