Friday, November 6, 2009

The Chinese navy is going blue water

BY XIAOXIONG YI

Harvard historian Paul Kenned, in his "The Rise and Fall of Navies," wrote, "Those faster-growing economies can afford both guns and butter." China's tremendous economic growth has been accompanied by a quantum leap in China's naval build-up.

Today, more than 1,000 Chinese commercial ships and oil tankers are sailing through troubled waters every day, and China's commercial sea-borne trade volumes have escalated dramatically. China's commercial maritime interests exceeded $800 billion by the end of 2008, and more than 60 percent of its oil imports transported by sea.

As Chinese cargo ships and oil tankers are becoming all the time more vulnerable on the high seas, Beijing sees it as vital to safeguard China's sea-lanes. Last week, the Chinese government vowed to make "all-out efforts" to rescue De Xin Hai, the Chinese ship hijacked by Somali pirates in the Indian Ocean northeast of the Seychelles.

What is perhaps more important, however, is Beijing's political-strategic ambitions. Chinese rulers are good students of the late Chairman Mao, who once said, "Power of government comes out of the barrel of gun." As Chinese rulers are becoming more confident and assertive, to modernize China's People's Liberation Army (PLA), especially the PLA Navy (PLAN), has become one of Beijing's top priorities.

China's defense spending has increased by an average of 16.2 percent a year since 1999. It now is the second-highest in the world. The PLA's official military budget for 2009 is at $70 billion, but the U.S. published estimates show that China's military spending as high as $150 billion. In its first annual report to Congress under the Obama administration, the Pentagon has charged China with hiding its real military spending and expressed concern over why China would increase its military expenditure with no apparent external threats. "China's failure to be transparent about its rapidly growing military capabilities," according to the report, "has created uncertainty and risks of miscalculation. Much uncertainty surrounds China's future course, particularly regarding how its expanding military power might be used."

A major factor that contributes to China's rapidly growing military expenditure is Beijing's long-harbored ambition of possessing a blue-water navy, not only to safeguard China's commercial sea-lanes, but also to advance China's off-shore territorial claims. Such considerations have ensured the PLAN to receive top priority in China's military modernization, with a generous budgetary allocation estimated at more than 30 percent of the PLA's total defense budget.

To build a blue water navy, no expense has been spared. Earlier this year, Chinese defense minister Liang Guanglie confirmed Beijing's plan to build a new generation of large destroyers and aircraft carrier. From the Yellow Sea to the South China Sea, Chinese shipyards are running flat out. According to the U.S. Congressional Research Service, "By 2010 China's submarine force will be nearly double the size of the U.S., and the entire Chinese naval fleet is projected to surpass the size of the U.S. fleet by 2015."

Strategically, China's leaders have long been saying that the Indian Ocean is not India's Ocean. Beijing's new "Pearl Necklace Strategy" is designed to put Chinese naval bases along the shores of the Indian Ocean, and the maritime routes to Malacca: Marao in the Maldives, Coco Island in Burma, Chittagong in Bangladesh and Gwadar in Pakistan. China also is creating coastal bases in Africa, now widely open to Chinese investment.

Beijing sees the Pacific to be the next major strategic contending field in coming decades. Here, China foresees two rivals: Japan and the United States. Beijing has already tested Tokyo's readiness by repeated submarine incursions. PLAN vessels also are confronting U.S. Navy ships in the Pacific. The Chinese ships jostled with a U.S. Navy surveillance ship in the recent South China Sea confrontation sends a strong signal to countries in the region that they may no longer be able to depend on the U.S. in a conflict with China in the Pacific theater.

One hundred fifteen years ago, Qing Dynasty China's shiny new armada, North Sea Fleet, was crushed by the Japanese Imperial Navy in the Battle of Yalu. The humiliating defeat accelerated the decline of China. Today, China is flexing its new naval muscle at sea. The Chinese naval build-up still is in its early stages, and it may be years before Beijing has a navy to match that of the U.S., but the trend is clear: Beijing is determined to challenge American hegemony on the high seas and to re-address the postwar balance of power in the Pacific and Indian Ocean.

10 comments:

China pakistan friendship Zindabad !!!!!

India seriously needs some diesel submarines to counter this . India's best bet is the U-214 followed by A-26 of kockums

scorpenes are not enough

I hope india wakes up to this clear & present danger .

Amur-1650 is needed to urgently

What our defence minister antony doing ??? can't even buy india submarines ??? when will india learn ???

Dear Mr. XIAOXIONG YI,

intresting article at all. I disagree in one point; the Pacific is so far in interest, how far the 2nd island chain is defined by China is a well known fact. Pure number of vessels is quite impressive, but including old class 53 destryers as well.

I agree with interests in the Indian Ocean. The Malacca Strait is essential for Chinas support of their economy.

All in all an article, quite similar to those Indian ones -give us more budget to be prepared for the Chinese threat. China is not stupid -not at all. They will never engage the Australian, Indian, Japanese an U.S. fleet at one time. But it has to be accepted that China will have an area of interest at the seas in the future, this is legitime after their "century of shame". Keep in mind, China was a power in this region for thousands of years before.
Why is it so hard for the U.S. to realise, that they get back the influence, wich they lost in the 19th and 20th century.

regards ;)

This article is not exactly correct.
China's submarines may be double America's in 2010, but will still be inferior in capability (unless the 095 comes out before then), and definitely training. The USN is the world's leading submarine force.
And if China's navy surpasses the US's in 2015, then most of the PLAN would be patrol and coastal ships, not big heavy destroyers, cruisers, or LHA/LHD's, which make up the majority of the US's navy.

US naval superiority would continue for the next few decades still I think...


(And to all people which are fearful of a rising Chinese navy such as India, we're actually building up a navy so we can defend our economic interests and our sea lanes of communications - if you look at our economy and our naval capability, the two do not have an even ratio. Besides with the USN at our backyard I think we're justified in wanting a better navy)

china has along way to go from catching USA,china bogey is raised by US defence forces just to frighten usa politicians so that they can give them(usa defence forces) more money.china pakistan friendship is more a commercial in nature than ideological,china is not pleased with pakistan over support of terrorist as they themselves are in trouble because of that.

Ah! The best laid plans of men and mice and now, of course, the Chinese... can go awry.

A belligerent China (so well articulated in this article)will also see Japanese shedding their pacifism, a resurgent Vietnam and a wary India and not forgetting, USA, declining power or not, will not be moot spectators.
It's a long haul for the Chinese and whether they realize their grand dreams will not only be dependent on their wishes but also on the other actors in the arena.

The Chinese 'happy hour' is going to take a long time coming if it ever comes at all.

Regarding the Japanese "shedding their pacifism". If that happens do you think South Korea will sit by idly also? Do you think SK will ally themselves with Japan? South Korea would more likely forge closer ties with China just to counter what they would see as a renewed "Japanese threat". Looking at history, South Korea had more to fear from Japan than they did China, in fact China even came to Korea's (before there even was a North and South) rescue in the 15th century to counter a Japanese invasion of Korea.

Besides, all this talk about Japan "shedding their pacifism" totally ignores current Japanese calls for closer ties with China. In fact Japan was even proposing a European Union style body to unite East Asia (ie China, Japan and South Korea) with the ASEAN countries. So all this talk about Japan vs China may end up to be rather of a moot point as Japan and China could end up united in some sort of "Asian Union" sometime in the future.

india will over come every threat on its own ,does not have to depend on any country n say zindabad,its a total shame for a country that fears to exsist on its own [begging is not called friendship its simply selling ur own self]in total desrespect

China is in competation with india. India has declared a new cold war between nations by sending huge build up of frontline troops to border.

India has the "guns and butter problem" too, foreign wepons from gora not do not come cheap. Usually they sell products at triple price of the cost to making weapons. They are after huge profits.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Share

Twitter Delicious Facebook Digg Stumbleupon Favorites More