BEIJING has unleashed a fleet of new destroyers which has the power to wipe out US warships in the South China Sea.
Military experts say the news proves the superpower's naval development has entered a "crucial new stage" amid mounting tensions in the disputed waters.
The unveiling of the Type 055 and Type 052D destroyers came just days after the decommissioning of multiple outdated Type 051 destroyers.
And weeks after US aircraft carriers sailed through the South China Sea after Washington accused Beijing of a "campaign of bullying" in the disputed region.
The USS Nimitz and USS Ronald Reagan travelled with their strike groups into the sea in mid July in a major show of strength to China.
Hong Kong-based media group Takung Wenwei reported the Peoples Liberation Army's new destroyers were launched from the Dalian Shipyard on Sunday morning.
Analysts say the state-of-the-art warships are more than a match for the world's top destroyers – including the US's Zumwalt-class.
They will take the place of warships which have been in service for the PLA since the 1970s, reports the Global Times.
China has prioritised updating its naval fleet over the past 12 months as part of £220 billion military spending programme.
It's reported it now boasts around 20 modern, aegis-type destroyers, and in four to five years that number is expected to double.
It's total naval fleet now stands at 777 vessels compared to the US's 490.
However, it still lags behind its superpower rival when it comes to aircraft carriers with just two compared to the Pentagon's 20.
The Sun Online has already revealed how China has reportedly been loadingits warships with monster generators topower high-energy weapons.
The 20 megawatt power units are required to operate lasers and rail guns that will destroy long-range targets and shoot down incoming missiles.
China and the US Navies are both developing railguns, a type of superweapon that can fire long-range projectiles at unprecedented speeds.
Beijing is now planning to hold war games in the region next, which is the focus of tension with the US and close to Taiwan.
At the weekend,the USS Halsey (DDG-97) sailed through the Taiwan Strait, marking the second US transit in two weeks and the ninth this year.
“The US navy will continue to fly, sail and operate anywhere international law allows,” a US navy spokesman said.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has accused China of a" completely unlawful" pursuit of territory in the South China Sea.
He has condemned China for carrying out a campaign of "bullying" to control the waters.
The South China Sea is considered to be potentially energy rich and a key global shipping lane.
China has long claimed an area known as the "nine-dash line" as its own.
It has been filling the region with its naval power and constructing artificial islands for military bases.
Taiwan, Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Vietnam also contest China's claim over the sea.
Reports of China's new launches came as one of the most senior European politicians ever to visit Taiwan warned the West must stand up to Beijing.
Milos Vystrcil, president of the Czech senate, spoke out on a visit to Taipei after Beijing said his country would pay a “heavy price” for his trip.
He urged the world to heed history’s lesson and not appease China by sacrificing Taiwan.
China sees Taiwan as its own territory and has threatened to take it by force if necessary by 2050.
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