China's neighbors are worried that the People's Republic may already have produced a stealth submarine, the South China Morning Post in Hong Kong reported Sunday.
Three weeks ago, photos of a new submarine built at a Chinese naval shipyard in Wuhan failed to draw much attention when they were posted on several websites. But that changed last week when the China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation disclosed that the Wuhan shipyard had built a new submarine, as well as more details of the craft.
China has not yet officially announced that this is a stealth sub, but neighboring countries have become nervous as military experts say that is what it is, the paper claimed.
"The talk in our community is that we are seeing the first signs of a completed new design," the daily quoted one Asian military expert as saying. "The question is ... just how quiet have they been able to make it? Stealth is everything when it comes to submarines and at some point China is going to finally crack it."
It also quoted the People's Liberation Army Daily as saying Da Liang Long, a professor at the PLA Navy's Submarine Academy, won an award from the Central Military Commission for his "considerable" work on submarine stealth technology.
"Naval officials in the region say encounters between submarines are increasing. Such encounters will become more frequent as countries such as Japan, Korea, Australia, Vietnam and Indonesia expand and update their submarine fleets in the face of China's rising military strength. The PLA will soon have more submarines than the United States Navy," the daily added.