China plays down secret nuclear sub base


China today did not confirm or deny reports that it has secretly built a major underground nuclear submarine base, but said its military build-up was not a threat to any country.

“We have a vast territorial sea. It is the duty of the Chinese army to safeguard our security on the sea, the sovereignty of our territorial sea and maritime rights and interests,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang told a bi-weekly media briefing.

Qin, who was asked about reports on the submarine base, avoided a direct reply but insisted that “China follows the path of peaceful development and pursues a national defence policy which is defensive in nature. China will always be the backbone of world peace.”

The base with a capacity to conceal 20 vessels posed a major threat to Asian countries and American interests in the region, British newspaper ‘The Daily Telegraph’ said citing satellite imagery.

India has voiced its apprehensions over the build-up of Chinese submarines, with Naval Chief Admiral Suresh Mehta saying it was a “cause for concern.”

“It is not the nuclear submarine bases that matter, we are concerned over the number of nuclear submarines that are being built in our neighbourhood,” he said.

When pointed out that the British government had expressed concern and asked if China had communicated anything to London or the Indian government on the base, Qin said, “I am not aware of the communication.”

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