"On 26 October 2006, a Chinese Song-class attack submarine reportedly surfaced in close proximity to the USS 'Kitty Hawk' carrier battle group in international waters near Okinawa. This was not the first time that Chinese submarines have attracted extensive media attention. The advent of the Yuan-class SSK in mid-2004 seems to have had a major impact in transforming the assessments of Western naval analysts, and also of the broader community of analysts studying China's military modernization. In order to grasp the energy that China is now committing to undersea warfare, consider that during 2002--2004 China's navy launched thirteen submarines while simultaneously undertaking the purchase of submarines from Russia on an unprecedented scale. Indeed, China commissioned thirty-one new submarines between 1995 and 2005. Given this rapid evolution, appraisals of China's capability to field competent and lethal diesel submarines in the littorals have slowly changed from ridicule to grudging respect of late. China's potential for complex technological development is finally being taken seriously abroad."
2007 Naval War College Review. Posted here with permission. Documents are for personal use only and not for commercial profit.
Naval War College Review: http://www.usnwc.edu/Publications/Naval-War-College-Review.aspx
Naval War College Review (Winter 2007), v. 60 no. 1