On March 27, 2023, the Chinese-language Military Scouts YouTube channel posted a video titled "Decoding the Significance of China's Type 055 Destroyer Names: Ambitions and Intentions Unveiled" in which Chinese expert Xiao Wu (in Chinese, "Little Military") provides an in-depth analysis of the naming conventions behind China's Type 055 destroyers, which have been the subject of recent media attention. Xiao points out that each of the destroyers is named after a significant location associated with the CCP's military history, offering a glimpse into the PLA Navy's "ambitions and aspirations." Most notably, the eighth ship is called Xianyang, meaning "Grand Unification," which Xiao says is meant "to deter the Taiwan independence elements." Xiao also explains that Xianyang belongs to the PLA Navy's South Sea Fleet, which is one of the main naval forces that would be deployed against Taiwan.
Xiao Wu: "The things you care about most are right here. Hello all, I'm Xiao Wu. Each episode presents you with a sharp point of view, let's feel the pulse of China together.
"The last Type 055 destroyer appears to have been commissioned. Thus, all eight Type 055 destroyers have shown up! According to relevant sources, the last Type 055 destroyer is believed to have held a commissioning ceremony and officially delivered to the navy. If the news is true, it means that all of China's first batch of eight 055 destroyers have been delivered to the navy and the navy's combat power has reached a new level.
"Today, all eight 055 destroyer ships have been publicly unveiled. They are: 101 Nanchang, 102 Lhasa, 103 Anshan, 104 Wuxi, 105 Dalian, 106 Yan'an, 107, Zunyi, and 108 Xianyang. So what is the meaning behind the names of these 055 destroyers?
"First, 101 Nanchang – the birthplace of the People's Army. The first ship of Type 055 destroyer was launched in June 2017 at Jiangnan Shipyard and commissioned in January 2020, named 'Nanchang,' with the number 101. Regardless of the name or the ship number, it carries an extraordinary historical significance. On August 1, 1927, 90 years before the launch of the first Type 055 destroyer, the gunfire in Nanchang City announced the birth of the People's Army. The naming of the first Type 055 destroyer after the birthplace of the People's Liberation Army fully demonstrates the high level of attention and expectations of the Chinese Navy towards this 10,000-ton class destroyer.
"The hull number of the Type 055's first ship also has the same meaning. In the 1950s, China imported four destroyers from the Soviet Union and formed its earliest destroyer fleet, which was called the Four Great Heavenly Kings. The ship numbers of these four destroyers were 101, 102, 103, and 104. In other words, the number 101 represents the first destroyer of the Chinese navy. Now the number 101 is assigned to the first ship of the 055 destroyers. It means that in the navy's view, starting from 101 Nanchang, the Chinese navy destroyer fleet will usher in a brand-new beginning. What is the brand-new beginning? It means the beginning of China's navy destroyers leading the world in performance. From the moment 101 Nanchang was commissioned, the Chinese Navy has had the most advances destroyer in the world, and even in the 2020s, no country in the world except China, could build a destroyer more advanced that the Type 055. Naming such a groundbreaking warship after the birthplace of the PLA and the hull number of the first destroyer of the People's Navy – I believe it is very appropriate.
"Second, 102 Lhasa –Safeguard national unity. 102 Lhasa was launched at Jiangnan Shipyard in April 2018 and commissioned in March 2021. Why does China choose to name its main warships after geographical locations? Warships are called 'mobile territory,' and naming them after geographical locations strengthens military-civilian connections, allowing naval officers and soldiers to feel the concern from their homeland even in the deep seas and oceans. Naming warships after geographical locations is a common practice worldwide, but in China this practice goes even further. After a warship is named after a certain location, a military-civilian relationship is established between the location and the warship. The relationship involves cooperation in various aspects such as national defense propaganda and resettlement of retired veterans.
"102 Lhasa takes the name of the capital of the Tibet Autonomous Region, further strengthening the connection between the Tibet region and the mainland, which is conducive to maintaining national unity. In recent years, foreign forces have been constantly provoking and sowing discord along the borders of China, attempting to undermine China's national unity and territorial sovereignty. India has repeatedly invaded the Chinese border, provoked incidents and conflicts at the border, and caused casualties among Chinese border guards. In this situation, China not only needs to take tough stance and decisively repel foreign invasions, but also needs to further implement policies for national unity and strengthen military and civilian connections with ethnic minorities. The naming of the Type 055 ship 102 as 'Lhasa' demonstrates that China adheres unwaveringly to the policy of national unity and will not allow any foreign forces to undermine Chinas national unity.
"Third, 103 Anshan – Industrial cradle of new China. 103 Anshan was launched at the Jiangnan Shipyard in September 2019 and commissioned in November 2021. The name of the 103 Anshan also has quite a prestigious history. The number 101 of the Nanchang ship we mentioned earlier belonged to the first destroyer of the new China. The name of that destroyer was Anshan. During the implementation of the 'First Five-Year Plan' in the newly founded People's Republic of China, which marked the beginning of the industrialization process, Anshan was an important industrial base in China. The well-known 'Ansteel' was born here. The name of the ship 103 of the Type 055 destroyers, Anshan, has two meanings. One is to inherit the name of the first destroyer of the Chinese navy, as the most advanced Type 055 destroyer of the Chinese navy, 103 Anshan will further promote and enhance the significance of this vessel. The other is being a memorial to the birthplace of China's industrialization. The construction of warships relies on the shipbuilding industry. Only with a strong shipbuilding industry can a large number of advanced warships be built for the navy. It's precisely because China has a shipbuilding industry with a scale of about half of the world and technology reaching world-class and even top-notch levels, that it has been able to construct warships in large numbers in recent years, often in the quantitatively fast form of 'throwing dumplings in the pot.' 103 Anshan will carry with it the fervent expectations of China's first destroyer and its industry, providing strong support for building a world-class navy.
"Fourth, 104 Wuxi – People and Science and Technology. 104 Wuxi was launched at the Jiangnan Shipyard in May 2020 and commissioned in March 2022. The people are the most solid backing of the People's Liberation Army; science and technology are the key magic weapons for the PLA to win future wars. As we mentioned earlier, when a warship is named after a certain place, it will establish a military-civilian relationship with that place. Wuxi City has long supported national defense construction work and actively carried out various military support work. It can be regarded as one of the typical representatives of military-civilian relations. Moreover, there are many national defense research institutes in Wuxi city, and many future-oriented national defense science and technology research projects are being conducted in these institutes, ultimately leading to the development of various advanced weapons and equipment. Wuxi city can represent both the people who support the people's army and the advanced science and technology that support the people's army. The Type 055 destroyer, as a 'mobile territory' that symbolizes people's power, as well as the culmination of China's cutting edge military technology, is named Wuxi and I think it is very appropriate.
"Fifth, 105 Dalian – the cradle of new China's shipbuilding industry. 105 Dalian was launched at the Dalian Shipyard in July 2018 and commissioned in April 2021. Dalian Shipyard should be relatively familiar to our viewers. The two aircraft carriers in active service of the Chinese Navy – the 'Liaoning' and the 'Shandong' – were both bult and launched at the Dalian Shipyard. As the cradle of the new Chinese shipbuilding industry, Dalian Shipyard is currently a warship construction base on par with Jiangnan Shipyard in China. A large number of main naval warships are built in Dalian Shipyard. Not long ago, someone posted a photo online of six Type 052D destroyers [that] are being constructed simultaneously in Dalian Shipyard, where the aircraft carriers Liaoning and Shandong were also built. Among the first batch of eight Type 055 destroyers, Dalian Shipyard was responsible for the construction of four of them. The first Type 055 destroyer built and launched at the Dalian Shipyard was the 105 'Dalian'. And this launch was a record-breaking warship launch. Two 10,000-ton destroyers were launched at the same time, setting a new record for the launch of Chinese destroyers, so it is well deserved to name the 105 ship 'Dalian'.
"Sixth, 106 Yan'an — Stay true to your original aspiration and remember your mission. 106 Yan'an was launched at the Dalian Shipyard in July 2018 an commissioned in February 2022. Yan'an is known as the holy land of the Chinese revolution. Since October 1935, Yan'an has become the center of China's New Democratic Revolution. In facet, if viewed from its comprehensive strength, Yan'an is a prefecture-level city. In the past naming conventions of the Chinese Navy, it was difficult for an ordinary prefecture-level city to be used to name advanced warships such as the Type 055 destroyer. However, Yan'an is not an ordinary prefecture-level city.
"As a revolutionary base area with a glorious history, Yan'an is fully qualified to be named the most advanced destroyer of the Chinese Navy and pass on the 'red' gene a revolutionary spirit of the revolutionary base area in the Chinese Navy. In the people's armed forces in the new era, it is the instruction of the CPC Central Committee 'to stay true to our original aspiration and keep our mission in mind.' The Type 055 destroyer 106 Yan'an – named after the revolutionary holy land Yan'an – has become a powerful combat force of the Peopels' Navy and at the same time undertakes the mission of carrying forward history.
"Seventh, 107 Zunyi – inheriting the spirit of the revolution. 107 Zunyi was launched at Dalian Shipyard in October 2019 and commissioned in 2022. Like 106 Yan'an, Zunyi became the name of an advanced 055 destroyer because Zunyi, an old revolutionary base area, has a very important historical significance.
"In the history of the PLA, the 'Zunyi Conference' was a crucial turning point of life and death. The conference repudiated the erroneous 'Left leaning ideology' and established the correct leadership represented by Mao Zedong, which had a profound impact on the development of the Party and the Peoples' Army. The 107 ship took Zunyi as the name to commemorate the 'Zunyi Conference,' a major event with profound significance in the history of the Peopels' Army. At the same time, as an old revolutionary base area, Zunyi has also made great achievements in the construction of military-civilian relations, so it makes perfect sense for an advanced 055 destroyer to be named after Zunyi.
"Eighth, 108 Xianyang – 'Grand Unification.' 108 Xianyang was launched at Dailian Shipyard in August 2020 and commissioned in 2022. The 108 ship is named after Xianyang, which has a different significance compared to all previous Type 055 destroyers. Nanchang, Anshan, Dalian, Yan'an, and Zunyi are named after places that have important historical significance in China's revolutionary history or in the development of new China. 'Lhasa' embodies national unity, and 'Wuxi' is the embodiment of the construction military-civilian relations. Also, Wuxi City's comprehensive strength is relatively strong. Xianyang, however, does not have any of the above elements. At present, it is speculated that ' Xianyang' becoming the name for the last ship of China's first batch of eight Type 055 destroyers is because it was the capital of the first 'unified' dynasty in Chinese history. The key reason lies in this 'Grand Unification.' If this is really the reason for the name of the 108 ' Xianyang,' then the meaning of the name 108 'Xianyang' is very obvious: to deter Taiwan independence elements. Moreover, 108 Xianyang belongs to the South Sea Fleet of the Chinese Navy, which is one of the main naval forces for future operations against Taiwan. This also indirectly indicates the meaning behind the name 'Xianyang.' Coincidentally, the first ship of the 003 aircraft carrier, which was launched not long ago, was named 'Fujian.' Speculations suggest that this is because Fujian is located on the front line against Taiwan, so China named its most advanced aircraft after Fujian.
"The first batch of eight Type 055 destroyers also has profound meanings behind their respective names, and will become a powerful force for the Chinese Navy in the new era. This also makes people start to anticipate what names and meanings the next batch of 055 destroyers will have after they are completed and commissioned. It is estimated that in just a few years, we will be able to find out the answer to my question."