04/22/2009, 00.00
CHINA
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Extraordinary security measures for celebrations of 60th anniversary of Chinese navy

The three-day celebration begins tomorrow in Qingdao. There is tight security around the entire area, partly in order to protect the many foreign leaders. Naval representatives from various countries have been invited, but not from Japan.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) - The strictest possible security measures are in place around the port of Qingdao, where a naval parade will take place tomorrow to begin three days of celebrations for the 60th anniversary of the Chinese navy.

21 ships from 14 countries are scheduled for the parade, and the leaders and military officials of many countries will be present. In recent days, uniformed naval officers from a number of countries have been seen in the city, drawing the attention of citizens and tourists. There will also be seminars and exchanges of information. The high number of officials from foreign countries increases the risk of attacks.

Every point of entry to the port is being guarded by navy personnel, and control of the surrounding area is also high. Local sources tell the South China Morning Post that the police have even "asked" taxi drivers not to bring foreigners into the area near the port, or to tell the police as soon as they have dropped them off at their destination. There are also heavy restrictions on the media.

Beijing is proud of celebrating its new naval power: in 1949, it was nothing but a force for coastal defense, while today it is capable of carrying out missions all over the world. The country is also recalling that 115 years ago, at the delta of the Yalu river in the Yellow Sea, its fleet from the North Sea, considered the most powerful in Asia, was defeated in a few hours by the Japanese navy, which was more efficient and better trained. This defeat marked the beginning of Japanese aggression against its larger neighbor, and decades of war. The Japanese navy has not been invited to the celebrations, while India, Pakistan, the United States, and Russia have been.

The projects underway include the creation of a submarine, with a titanium skeleton covered by a special plastic capable of operating at depths of up to 7,000 meters, which the engineer Zhao Junhai of the China Ship Scientific Research Centre hopes can be launched between 2009 and the beginning of 2010. Zhao says that the submarine, which is superior to the current models of the United States and Japan, can sustain pressure of up to 700 kilograms per square centimeter.

Experts nevertheless maintain that China is still far behind the world's greatest naval powers. Its greatest task is the creation of an aircraft carrier capable of competing with those of the United States.

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