The navy plans to develop a new generation of warships and aircraft as part of the country's effort to upgrade the maritime security defense system, the service's commander-in-chief said on Wednesday.
Admiral Wu Shengli outlined key missions, present and future, in an interview with Xinhua News Agency on the eve of the 60th anniversary of the Chinese navy next Thursday.
Such an interview with a high-ranking military officer is rare, military sources said on Wednesday, adding that the message conveyed by the navy chief reflects key thinking on the navy's strategy.
Wu - who is 64 and assumed his post in August 2006 - said the navy will develop weaponry such as large combat warships, submarines with longer range and stealth capability, supersonic cruise aircraft, more accurate long-range missiles, deep-sea torpedoes and upgraded information technology, among others.
Senior Colonel Li Jie, a researcher at the Chinese Navy's Military Academy, said the "large warships" Wu mentioned do not mean only aircraft carriers, but he did not elaborate.
The media have reported that China will have an aircraft carrier "very soon".
East China fleet commander Admiral Xu Hongmeng said last month during the national legislature's annual session that the country possessed both the ability and motivation to build a carrier.
"China really needs a carrier. Both technologically and economically, China already has the capacity to build a carrier," Xu said.
Wu, a member of the Central Military Commission, the nation's top military body, also said the navy will greatly strengthen its logistics and support facility system to improve far-sea repair, delivery, rescue and replenishment capacities.
"The navy will establish a maritime defense system that corresponds with the need to protect China's maritime security and economic development," he said.
Peng Guangqian, a Beijing-based military strategist, said Wu's remarks are more than routine remarks to mark the navy's landmark anniversary.
"He outlined the missions of the navy in a new historical stage, where more of the country's national interests overseas need to be protected with a correspondingly strong navy," he said.
The navy has witnessed rapid progress in its logistics and support capability, with the tonnage of complementary ships now six times higher than 30 years ago.
The network of naval bases, airports and ammunition supply systems have enabled the navy to conduct missions further offshore.
Wu also said the navy is stepping up exchanges with foreign navies to tackle non-traditional security threats.
"To cope with the non-traditional security threats in the vast sea environment, exchanges and effective cooperation among the navies of different countries are vital."
Wu announced major missions for the navy this year, including: Anti-piracy missions off the coast of Somalia, port visits, the National Day parade and a sea parade to mark its 60th anniversary.
Preparations have entered final stages in Qingdao, headquarters of China's North Sea Fleet, for the celebrations next week. More than 40 vessels from 15 countries are scheduled to take part in the event.