I actually tried to remember the last time the Chinese Navy had a victory, and couldn't think of one offhand.
The last time they saw combat was being crushed by the Japanese in 1895.
What you heard from the ambassador conforms to what I've heard from various naval types; including some that have been on PRC warships; they look pretty "sloppy."
plus I heard that their primary missles and such were just not on par though their ships are fairly modern......I'll bet not a whole lot better than Russia in the later stages of their arms race...
The last PLAN victory was more recent than that.They had a series of clashes with the Vietnamese navy in the 1980s & a pretty big one in 1988,when they sank a handful of Vietnamese gunboats.
Kind of like the french LOL.
This could alter any scenario somewhat in their favor, especially if they were to render the canal impassable during a protracted conflict.
When Chinese troops were sent into Haiti to keep the peace and 'help' with hurricaine cleanup this past season, where were they deployed from?
To underestimate their capability would be a mistake. Maybe the units are not so good, (maybe they are--no one has fought the Chinese Navy under Communist Chinese rule), but their strategic thinking will probably not be flawed to the point where they do not take this into consideration.
Two important reads come to mind: Sun Tsu: The Art of War, and Mao Tse Tung on Guerilla Warfare.
Understand the philosophy, and that total war is more than military confrontation, and any increase in their overt naval capability becomes suspect.
Communism was not just the Soviet Union, and we ignore the Chinese at our peril.