Aggressive Chinese naval vessel nearly caused a collision with a U.S. warship in international waters
A U.S. guided missle warship nearly collided with a Chinese ship in international waters last week while 'conducting surveillance' on one of the country's aircraft carriers, the Liaoping.
This is just the latest move by an increasingly aggresive Chinese navy looking to expand their power in the region.
According to the Washington Free Beacon, the USS Cowpens was in the South China Sea returning from a disaster relief operation in the Philippines about a week ago when they received a message from the Chinese telling them to halt.
Close call: The USS Cowpens was conducting surveillance on the Chinese aircraft carrier Liaoning last week when it nearly collided with another Chinese ship
Because the ship was in international waters, its commander ignored the message - until the Chinese navy pulled forced the crew's attention.
The navy dispatched a tank landing ship to sail right in front of the Cowpens, forcing the warship to pull an emergency change of course.
If the U.S. crew hadn't been able to pull off the emergency manevuer, the ship would have definitely collided with the Chinese vessel.'On December 5th, while lawfully operating in international waters in the South China Sea, USS Cowpens and a PLA Navy vessel had an encounter that required maneuvering to avoid a collision,' a Navy official said.
'This incident underscores the need to ensure the highest standards of professional seamanship, including communications between vessels, to mitigate the risk of an unintended incident or mishap.'
U.S. officials protested the tense confrontation to China in both Washington and Beijing on diplomatic and military channels, according to a State Department official.
International waters: A Chinese naval vessel ordered the USS Cowpens to stop, but the U.S. crew was in international waters and ignored the order. Above, Chinese aircraft carrier Liaoping
The skirmish was predicted by Pentagon officials who said something like this could happen after China recently declated a 'air defense identification zone (ADIZ)' in the East China Sea, claiming international waters.
In order to temper China's military aggression, China military affairs expert Rick Fisher advises that the U.S. step up rearmamment of the Philippines and aid Japan in fortifying the contested Senkaku Islands.
'In this early stage of using its newly acquired naval power, China is posturing and bullying, but China is also looking for a fight, a battle that will cow the Americans, the Japanese, and the Filipinos,' he said.
President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping met for a summit in California earlier this year and agreed to develop a new type of relationship between the two countries.
President Barack Obama shakes Chinese President Xi Jinping at a bilateral meeting in Russia this past September. The two men met in California earlier this year and agreed to develop a new kind of relationship between the two countries
The Meetings in Beijing
The big prize
China, Russia, India – Their US ‘Asia Pivot’ Response Emerging
America's foreign policy of self defeat continues on in Asia. The Bush (43) NeoCon grand strategy of capturing the Caspian Basin petro chemical prize while ringing Russia and China with a huge forward military deployment was nothing more than a Neo-Cold War replacement for the last one, and a gift to our military industrial complex.
The stupid strategy played a key role in our bankruptcy and new permanent lower standard of living, although not for 'all' Americans. It also gave a big push for these Asian countries to band together for mutual defense against US trade war intimidation.
Sadly our Navy is being converted into off shore muscle for multinational corporations that have no loyalty to any country. It has been deployed to protect us from non-existent naval threats, or I guess you would call them 'stealth navies' today...the kind you can't see.
Our threatening policy also focused them on working together to create energy supply land bridges to blunt our Navy threat against their supply lines. The pipelines being built and those planned will lock out current and all future Western oil discoveries from these markets.
This is being spun back here at home as an 'attack on the dollar', but it is our greedy elites and their political honchos who have attacked the dollar, along with the rest of the our economy and devastated it more than any 'enemy' could have done. Bush (43), his daddy's gang of thieves and the NeoCons destroyed our country, and not a one of them has paid an appropriate price.
When a US administration use the term 'our interests' when discussing foreign policy, you all have to understand that they are no including you and I in that term. The 'our' ... is 'them'. But few have suffered national public disgrace.
Quite the contrary, Paul Wolfowitz, got moved up toe the World Bank... a continuation of the new American way, where failure at a high enough level qualifies you for a higher job. I call this appointment terrorism and we are long past time leaving such decision in the hands of corrupt politicians. If we do, we deserve what we get.
That said, it is way past time we started taking a good look at curtailing executive power in the White House, and Congress. They have established a good enough record by now that they are just to dangerous to be given such authority... Jim W. Dean ]
Is this just a natural response to America’s ‘Forward Deployment’?
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev visited China from Oct. 22 to Oct. 24. Visits by the Russian leadership to the Middle Kingdom are not extraordinary events in and of themselves.
Paying increased attention to this power is completely understandable. Yet there are several features of Medvedev’s latest visit that compel us to pay close attention to it.
On Oct. 22, at the same time Medvedev was in Beijing, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh came for a three-day visit, and in another curious coincidence, so did the head of Mongolia’s government, Norovyn Altankhuyag. Was this happenstance? As Hua Yiwen of People’s Daily supposes, necessity is concealed behind the randomness.
About the overall background of the latest meetings in Beijing the following can be stated very briefly: In the not too distant future, India and China will become (and China has already become) the major producing regions in Eurasia, and probably the world as well. Their demand for energy and cheap electricity is growing very rapidly.
Military might is a powerful argument for Russia in big-league politics. The country is also a world leader in the design and manufacture of new weapons systems. The Obama administration’s “pivot to Asia” imposes on Beijing the necessity of increasing its army and naval might. Cooperating with Russia would be quite useful for this relationship.
Air Defense against an American attack is a threat they want a solid joint defense for
All the things mentioned above are so-called “objective preconditions” for bringing the “Eurasian Three” closer together.
The economies of these countries are capable of complementing each other, and security interests might force their governments to cooperate more closely.
What issues were on the meeting agenda for Medvedev and his Chinese colleagues? The global media gave sparse coverage to the agenda, focusing instead on the literary and sports preferences of the Russian prime minister.
As for People’s Daily, author Hua Yiwen remarked that Chinese leaders, while on a trip abroad this year, suggested that an idea to create a “Silk Road economic zone” and a “maritime Silk Road ” would bring tremendous opportunities for Russia, China and Mongolia.
In addition, passage of Chinese goods bound for Europe through Mongolia and Russia, and direct supply of Russian energy resources to China promise considerable profits for all the countries involved. This prospect is unlikely to create warm and fuzzy feelings in Washington, but it is what it is. For alas, aircraft carriers cannot control the vast expanses of Siberia.
In light of Washington’s claims of exclusivity, the sea route through the Strait of Malacca does not look as attractive to China as it did before. The bottleneck of the strait is starting to look more like the entrance to a trap. It is obvious that the Chinese want to diversify not only the sources that supply oil and gas to the country but also the trade routes connecting it with business partners.
Missile batteries on land could protect these energy trade routes from ‘interference’.
It should be noted that although the Russian government attaches special importance to relations with China, President Vladimir Putin considers Russia-India relations no less meaningful. On Oct. 21, immediately prior to his visit to Beijing, Singh visited Moscow.
At a meeting with the Indian prime minister, Putin mentioned some of the aspects of Russian-Indian cooperation, particularly the upgrades to the aircraft carrier Vikramaditya, which is almost ready to be delivered to India. Putin also noted Russia’s participation in the creation of prospective Indian weaponry.
Unfortunately, the uptick in trade between India and Russia leaves much to be desired, but some changes are outlined here. India, let us repeat, sorely needs great quantities of energy. In the state of Tamil Nadu, Russia is constructing the Kudankulam nuclear power plant.
Nevertheless, that is inadequate. Work has been going on recently to organize direct gas supplies to India, and the potential for an oil and gas pipeline network connecting India and Russia is being discussed.
Indian Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid, in a recent interview with Voice of Russia, observed that Russia could become a major partner in construction of the TAPI pipeline connecting Turkmenistan to India via Afghanistan and Pakistan. “All Russian gas now goes to Europe,” Khurshid said. “Why not send it to South Asia?”
Supplying gas through Pakistan and Afghanistan could spur industrial development in those countries, which, in the case of Afghanistan, ought to be a real breakthrough into the 21st century. A sizable portion of the Afghan population is in the business of producing opium and heroin to meet the needs of drug addicts the world over.
The drug business is now the life line for keeping the corrupt Afghan leadership in power
The U.S. Army Expeditionary Forces control the territory of Afghanistan. Building a gas pipeline through opium poppy fields might seem to Washington to be a vain and pointless enterprise, depriving Afghan workers of their livelihoods.
It is a pity that the White House does not adhere to the strategy of “divide and rule” as it is commonly portrayed in the media. It is more attracted by opportunities to play dirty tricks wherever possible.
As for relations between India and China, they are not simple and are weighed down by burdens of the recent past: border conflicts, support for Tibetan separatists and other unfortunate misunderstandings. These must be addressed. This requires political will, and that is something the governments of India and China have. Both sides are focused on cooperation, and that is the main thing.
According to People’s Daily, during Singh’s visit to China, the parties agreed to strengthen cooperation in establishing an economic corridor that will connect China, India, Bangladesh and Myanmar; undertaking projects in the realm of railway cooperation; and creating industrial parks. This project will also enable China to bypass the Strait of Malacca and facilitate access to the Persian Gulf.
In addition, the Chinese government is obviously concerned about the sharp rise in aggressiveness by Washington of late, and it is taking all precautions to bolster the country’s security. Too bad for the United States that it is experiencing major financial difficulties and can only try to resolve them on other countries’ dime.
Is World War Three about to start... by accident? rising tensions between China and Japan could boil over
Perhaps it is possible — and how nice it would be to believe this — that war between the greatest nations on earth has been abolished.
The cost and the threat of nuclear escalation is so horrendous that reason argues that nothing remotely resembling the 20th century's vast global clashes can ever happen again.
Assuredly, there can be no more Dunkirks or D-Days, because no Western nation — even the United States — can deploy a mass army.
Armed Chinese soldiers stand at attention after being deployed in Qingdao, Shandong province
If conflict does come, it will be waged with the high-tech weapons of our own time: warplanes manned and unmanned, missiles, cyber-attack weapons and the many instruments of destruction guided from space satellites.
But this would not make a great power conflict any less catastrophic.
And this is why a shiver will have run through the leaderships of Asia and of the Western powers this week when China's ambassador to London argued that Japan risks 'a serious threat to global peace' by 'rekindling' the bellicose attitude that hastened the expansion of World War II into a global conflict. He even compared Japan today to Lord Voldemort, the arch villain in the Harry Potter novels.
This comes just a few weeks after China — with absolutely no warning — declared hundreds of thousands of square miles of airspace above the East China Sea as its own Air Defence Zone.
This includes the eight tiny uninhabited pimples, called the Senkaku Islands by Japan and Diaoyu by China.
Taiwan also has a claim to the islands — nationalised by Japan from private sellers in 2012, much to the anger of China.
M60A3 tanks fire off shells during the annual Han Kuang military exercise in Penghu, west of Taiwan
A Chinese submarine attends an offshore blockade exercise during the third phase of the Sino-Russian 'Peace Mission 2005' joint military exercise, held on the sea to the south-east of China's Shandong Peninsula
The United States responded to this bitter dispute between Tokyo and Beijing by dispatching two USAAF B-52s bombers to overfly the islands, emphasising its commitment to the right of free navigation.
Japan's prime minister, Shinzo Abe, declared gravely that China had started 'a whole new game'. His government threatened to shoot down any Chinese drones that appeared over the Senkakus. Beijing responded that this would be an act of war.
Nobody, including the Chinese, wants armed conflict. Indeed, an analyst for the International Institute Of Strategic Studies has said that China 'aims to push rather than break limits'.
Yet the tensions between Tokyo, Washington and Beijing have been increasing for years.
Amphibious tanks of the Chinese People's Liberation Army move to land a beach
A Chinese naval vessel launches anti-submarine missiles in an offshore blockade exercise
For the moment, China, the U.S. and Japan still maintain courtesies between governments. Most crucially, Beijing holds trillions of dollars of U.S. debt.
But many of history's wars have been triggered by miscalculations while nations have been testing each other's strengths.
Indeed, there is a profound fear in Washington, in Tokyo, and maybe also in Beijing, that one day something unspeakably ghastly could happen by mistake.
Remember that in 1914 before the outbreak of World War I, Britain and Germany were each other's largest trading partners. Professor Peter Dutton, of the U.S. Naval War College, has warned of the growing tensions, saying: 'China's challenge to existing maritime norms is creating hairline fractures in the global order.'
Rising tensions: A hot-air balloon a Chinese cook took a ride in caused a diplomatic incident recently when it was discovered by Japanese coast guard in waters near the East China Sea islands called Senkaku by Japan and Diaoyu by China
A jet fighter of Jinan Military Region takes part in a China Air Force Military drill on September 17, 2012 in Jinan, China
This comment followed an authoritative Washington defence guru who said that, whatever short-term bother terror groups such as Al Qaeda might cause, 'in the middle-long term, there will only be one main concern of the U.S. armed forces, and that is China. China is reshaping the military order in Asia, and is doing so at our expense'.
China has an ever-growing fleet of missile-armed warships — thought to number around 80, as well as nearly 300 amphibious assault ships — including fast-attack craft specifically designed as 'carrier-killers', to engage the U.S. Navy's behemoths.
In response, the huge U.S. Andersen air force base on the Pacific Ocean island of Guam has become host to a £10 billion reinforcement programme.
The Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force holds an anti-tank weapon during an annual training exercise at Higashifuji training field near Mount Fuji in Gotemba, west of Tokyo
A Japanese armoured tank fires during an annual training exercise at Higashifuji training field near Mount Fuji
Paratroopers from Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF) Narashino 1st Airborne Brigade jump out from a military plane
As a result, its hangars now hold B-2 and B-52 bombers, air-to-surface and cruise missiles, Global Hawk drones, F-15 and F-22 fighters, the latter just a 20-minute flight from the Taiwan Strait.
Amitai Etzioni, professor of international relations at George Washington University, declares bleakly: 'There are increasing signs that the United States and China are on a collision course.'
What is not disputed is that China is determined to assert its new status as a major regional power, while the U.S. is equally bent upon deterring or deflecting Chinese expansionism, and especially aggressiveness.
This was the reason behind President Obama's 2010 decision to rebalance American strategic assets towards the Pacific.
The American case is as readily made as was the British one, for resisting quite similar German posturing before 1914. Washington's attitude is: 'We and our allies are democracies, while China is an autocracy which denies respect for human rights or international law.'
Japan's Aegis-class destroyer Kirishima launches and an anti-aircraft missile off the coast of Hawaii
I believe that unless the Washington administration makes plain its determination to support any country (such as Japan) that is threatened with aggression by Beijing, China will go ahead and impose its ruthless will upon the entire Pacific region.
As for the contrary view from Beijing itself, China's leaders cherish a profound grievance about the Tokyo government's persistent refusal to confront the reality of Japan's mid-20th century war crimes in Asia.
For the Tokyo government asserts that the time has passed for any Japanese apologies or even discussion of its historical record.
An example of this defiance is the military museum that is situated next door to Tokyo's Yasakuni shrine, where so many Japanese war criminals' ashes lie and to which many Japanese politicians visit to pay homage.
I have been to the place myself, and find it as repugnant as do the Chinese. Which is why they found such offence a few days ago when the Japanese premier arrived there to pay his respects. (Its choice of exhibits is intended to prove that during the middle of the last century, Japan entered China — where at least 15 million people fell victim to its occupation — and other Asian countries in order to 'protect' them from European exploitation.) In the same vein, Japan describes its half-century occupation of Korea as a 'partnership'.
Japan Ground Self Defense Force soldiers rapel down from a transport helicoptor UH-1
The ghastly Thirties massacres committed by the Japanese army at Shanghai and Nanjing are not mentioned.
In Japanese school textbooks, the systemic exploitation of 'comfort women' by the Japanese Army is a forbidden subject.
Most shockingly, a Japanese minister claimed last year that such victims were 'volunteers'.
While it is deemed unforgivable — and even criminal — across most of the world to deny the existence of the Nazi Holocaust of six million Jews, almost the entire Japanese nation denies its own barbarities across Asia.
This intransigence helps to explain why South Korea, for instance, recently refused to conclude an intelligence-sharing security agreement with Japan, because public opinion remains so alienated by its former oppressors' lies about the past. For its part, the U.S. is impatient for Japan to abandon the controversial Article 9 of its post-war constitution (imposed by America after the end of World War II), which forces the country to renounce war and restricts its armed forces to a self-defence role.
Japan's prime minister, Shinzo Abe, declared that his government would shoot down any Chinese drones that appeared over the Senkakus
Senkaku islands, the small island cluster on the East China Sea, which Japan, China and Taiwan all claim sovereignty over
Times have changed and Washington now wants to see the Japanese accept a much larger share of the responsibility for containing China.
But more than a few prominent Asians are wagging a warning finger at the Americans, urging: 'Be careful what you wish for.'
The truth is that many of Japan's Asian neighbours — not to mention the Chinese — will never trust Tokyo until it comes clean about its dreadful history, as it seems determined not to do.
China is a tough, assertive, immature nation in a hurry; the United States is seen in Beijing as a weakly led, declining military power that is vulnerable to pressure
On the specific issue of the disputed Senkaku islands, China points out that Tokyo has held them only since the late 19th century, when Japan became an early entrant into the race for an Asian empire.
There are economic issues at stake, too. Sovereignty claims are based on a desire to exploit the area's rich resources in fish and hydrocarbons.
Above all, though, the tension is based on much bigger ambitions.
China argues, just as Germany did before 1914 in respect of Britain's maritime supremacy, that now it is one of the big players in Asia, there is no reason why it should accept America's claims to Pacific hegemony.
Why should Beijing tolerate U.S. warships and aircraft conducting close surveillance of the Chinese coast? Such a presence is unjustified in an age of satellites and simply reflects a wish by America to parade its military might at the expense of Chinese dignity.
Such arguments have spread to cover debate about freedom of the internet. A Chinese army general recently dismissed American drum-banging about the importance of preserving 'global internet freedom.'
He said that Washington was using this as an excuse to preserve its own 'cyber-hegemony'. He added: 'In the information era, seizing and maintaining superiority in cyberspace is more important than was seizing command of the sea and air in World War II'.
Even if we British, as American allies, ultimately reject some of these arguments, we should acknowledge that the U.S. often seems clumsy, patronising and over-bearing in its attitude to other nations.
For example, the Chinese were enraged recently by the behaviour of U.S. Vice-President Joe Biden. On a supposed goodwill visit to Beijing, he urged a group of Chinese to keep up their protests against denial of human rights. He said they should 'challenge the government'.
Biden may have been right, but his action was foolish and insensitive.
During the Second Sino-Japanese War in the 1930s, Nanjing was the scene of a Japanese massacre (the Rape of Nanking), which is ignored by the Japanese government even today
Such self-righteous moralising is the sort of behaviour that worries Nigel Inkster, a former deputy director of Britain's Secret Intelligence Service, who, earlier this year, spoke bleakly about the relationship between the two countries.
He said: 'If it is to avoid becoming the chronicle of a death foretold, both parties will need to demonstrate greater self-awareness than either has yet shown'.
A key issue of contention remains human rights.
Of course, it is right that the rest of the world presses China to respect international law abroad and human rights at home.
Military power, firmness and clarity of purpose are essential tools for addressing China through the years ahead, as it increasingly flexes its muscles.
But so, too, is a willingness to recognise that China will not become a liberal democracy any time soon.
As this vast country has for centuries been so misused by the Western powers, including Britain, its rise to greatness now deserves applause as well as prudent apprehension.
Yet, however careful the U.S. and China may be in managing their future relationship, I fear that it will remain fraught and indeed dangerous.
China is a newly rich, increasingly mighty nation, which is bent upon elbowing aside the Americans, in the Pacific region at least, to assert its own claims as a Great Power.
This makes it inevitable that there will be rows, confrontations, crises, some involving both nations' armed forces.
The peril will persist throughout our lifetimes and the great worry is that a clash such as one over the disputed Senkaku islands will go horribly wrong.
Popular nationalism is a growing force in China, just as it is in Japan, and the great challenge for both nations' politicians is to grapple with its excesses.
China often speaks of the importance of using restraint — kezhi — in its conduct abroad.
But its defence minister has said that although any full-scale war is unlikely, 'we cannot exclude the possibility that, in some local area, unexpected events may occur, or military friction may take place due a to a misfire'.
History tells us that nations that create vastly expensive armed forces sooner or later feel an itch to use them.
China is a tough, assertive, immature nation in a hurry; the United States is seen in Beijing as a weakly led, declining military power that is vulnerable to pressure.
For the moment, Washington knows that it can deploy vaster greater military power than China. It is also morbidly anxious not to be seen to show weakness — hence its decision to dispatch the B-52s over the Senkakus.
Ultimately, I want to be hopeful. The world managed to avert war during more than 40 years of armed nuclear confrontation between the Soviet Union and the United States.
Maybe it can do so through the 21st century, as China grows ever stronger and America's superiority wanes.
But we cannot take peace for granted.
The Pacific rim is ever more densely strewn with the toys of war. The risk of some local turf dispute exploding into a great power collision will remain alarmingly real.
How the Pentagon’s new strategy could trigger war with China
As the threat to forward-deployed U.S. forces grows, particularly in East Asia, the Pentagon has been pursuing a strategy known as Air-Sea Battle. As Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Greenert and Chief of Staff of the Air Force General Welsh have outlined here in FP, the goal is to neutralize the ability of enemies to keep U.S. forces at bay with so-called anti-access and area-denial defenses.
But while the proponents of Air-Sea Battle are careful to say that the strategy isn't focused on one specific adversary, we shouldn't kid ourselves: The Chinese see it as aimed at them. Then-Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said as much in the 2012 defense strategic guidance: "States such as China and Iran will continue to pursue asymmetric means to counter our power projection capabilities.... Accordingly, the U.S. military will invest as required to ensure its ability to operate effectively in anti-access and area denial (A2/AD) environments."
To do that, according to Air-Sea Battle, U.S. forces would launch physical attacks and cyberattacks against the enemy's "kill-chain" of sensors and weaponry in order to disrupt its command-and-control systems, wreck its launch platforms (including aircraft, ships, and missile sites), and finally defeat the weapons they actually fire. The sooner the kill-chain is broken, the less damage U.S. forces will suffer -- and the more damage they will be able to inflict on the enemy. Therein lies both the military attractiveness and the strategic risk of Air-Sea Battle.
Air-Sea Battle proponents are right to highlight the growing vulnerability of forward-deployed U.S. forces and right to enhance inter-service collaboration. But civilian and military leaders alike need to understand that Air-Sea Battle suggests the United States would strike China before China strikes U.S. forces. That could precipitate a spiraling, costly, and destabilizing arms race and make a crisis more likely to lead to hostilities. The United States needs options to facilitate crisis management, deter aggression, and protect U.S. forces that do not require early attacks on Chinese territory.
Here we suggest two: Shift toward a more survivable force posture in East Asia and improve the means to prevent China -- or any state -- from projecting force in an act of international aggression.
Akin to the Air-Land Battle plan of the 1980s -- meant to thwart Soviet aggression against NATO -- Air-Sea Battle responds to the declining viability of forward defense, combined with an aversion to nuclear escalation. As then, Air-Sea Battle is a joint effort by two services to align their capabilities and war plans to defeat a serious threat from a powerful adversary. (Then it was the Army and Air Force, now the Navy and Air Force.) And like Air-Land Battle, there is more to Air-Sea Battle than inter-service collaboration: namely a focus on deep, early strikes against enemy forces, infrastructure, command and control, and territory -- then Soviet, now Chinese.
Disrupting or destroying China's kill-chain is alluring. China has the resources to threaten U.S. forces in the Pacific. Failure to develop countermeasures would leave the United States with a declining ability to operate militarily, deter Chinese use of force, reassure and defend allies, and exert influence in a vital region. Yet this simple idea could have dire consequences: Air-Sea Battle's targets would have to be struck before they could do significant damage to U.S. forces. With the exception of ships at sea and satellites in orbit, the targets that comprise China's kill-chain -- air and naval bases, missile launchers, land-based sensors, command-and-control centers -- are in China itself.
Attacking Chinese territory would have serious geopolitical consequences. China isn't the menacing, isolated Soviet Union. It's a huge and integral part of the world economy, as well as a potential U.S. partner in managing world affairs. While the United States must maintain a strong military presence to balance the growth of Chinese power and prevent instability in East Asia, where the potential for conflict is greatest, at the same time it is trying to engage China in security cooperation from Korea to the Persian Gulf. Moreover, 2013 is not 1980: Information technologies -- for targeting, networking, and cyberwar -- are advancing rapidly, and China is more capable of competing technologically than the Soviet Union ever was.
Given all these concerns, what does Air-Sea Battle contribute to U.S. security? It could indeed present China's military with serious problems. The kill-chain on which its A2/AD strategy depends is complex, fragile, and vulnerable to physical attacks and cyberattacks. By disabling this chain, Air-Sea Battle could buy space, time, and security for the use of existing U.S. strike forces. Or, as the Chinese see it, Air-Sea Battle could render China extremely vulnerable to U.S attack.
At the same time, Air-Sea Battle does not solve the underlying problem of U.S. forces' growing vulnerability in the Western Pacific. That is the result of military-technological trends, geographic realities, and the limitations and costs of defending overseas deployments. Each factor favors A2/AD. Air-Sea Battle could provide a stopgap countermeasure until the United States can address its vulnerability. But it also has the potential to deepen Chinese fears of U.S. intentions, cause the Chinese to re-double their A2/AD effort -- which they see as essential for national defense -- and even make conflict more likely. Importantly, the advent of Air-Sea Battle should not divert the United States from developing other capabilities that could serve the same ends without destabilizing Sino-U.S. relations.
Because China is so critical, and because war with China could be so dangerous, we must think through the circumstances in which potentially escalatory attacks would be warranted. We must not lose sight of the fact that the Chinese regard U.S. forces in the Western Pacific -- especially air- and sea-based strike forces -- as threatening. While some such forces are needed to deter Chinese use of force in the region, plans for their use should take into account the fact that the Chinese see things differently, and for the most part defensively.
Air-Sea Battle increases the odds that a crisis will turn violent. Already, the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) leans toward early strikes on U.S. forces if hostilities have begun or appear imminent (this inclination is a first premise of the Air-Sea Battle concept). Given that, to be most effective, Air-Sea Battle would need to take down Chinese targeting and strike capabilities before they could cause significant damage to U.S. forces and bases. It follows, and the Chinese fear, that such U.S. capabilities are best used early and first -- if not preemptively, then in preparation for further U.S. offensive action. After all, such U.S. strikes have been used to initiate conflict twice in Iraq. This perception will, in turn, increase the incentive for the PLA to attack preemptively, before Air-Sea Battle has degraded its ability to neutralize the U.S. strike threat. It could give the Chinese cause to launch large-scale preemptive cyber- and anti-satellite attacks on our Air-Sea Battle assets. Indeed, they might feel a need, out of self-defense, to launch such attacks even if they had not planned to start a war. It is a dangerous situation when both sides put a premium on early action.
In addition, there is no reason to think that the Chinese will be resigned to the disadvantages created for them by Air-Sea Battle. Indeed, Chinese commentators are already calling for China to intensify its efforts to respond in space and cyberspace -- since Air-Sea Battle depends critically on the computer networks and satellites that connect U.S. sensors, platforms, weapons, and command-and-control systems. It is not clear that U.S. military networks can be hardened enough to withstand the sort of major cyberattacks the Chinese will be able to conduct in the coming years. True, such attacks could occur in the event of a Sino-U.S. conflict, Air-Sea Battle or not. But whether they occur preemptively or with ample warning could affect the ability of U.S. forces to withstand them. Just as Air-Sea Battle calls for the United States to initiate cyberattacks against China in the event of a conflict, it will reinforce Chinese motivations to develop the means and plans to initiate cyberwar against the United States. This could disadvantage the United States: Although Chinese reliance on computer networks for military operations and other functions is growing, the United States is and will remain for some time more network-reliant, and thus more exposed in the event of cyberwar. We simply do not understand well enough how cyberwar with China would unfold and whether it could be contained. Strategies that encourage mutual restraint rather than early offensive action in this unfamiliar strategic domain may ultimately be advantageous to the United States.
Most distressing, from a strategic perspective, is that Air-Sea Battle addresses how a war with China could begin, but it begs the questions of what course such a war could take, where it would lead, and how it could be ended on terms favorable to the United States. It is one thing to attack Iraq or Libya (or even Iran). It's quite another to attack the world's second most powerful state.
So what steps should the United States take to counter China's growing A2/AD arsenal? Air-Sea Battle capabilities are worth pursuing, but they cannot be the entirety of our military posture. The United States needs options that facilitate crisis management, deter aggression, and sustain U.S. force survivability without requiring early attacks on Chinese territory. (Those should be a last resort, not the first.) To that end, we propose shifting toward a more survivable force posture in East Asia. We also suggest developing America's own A2/AD capabilities, thus its ability to prevent China -- or any other hostile state -- from projecting force.
A more sustainable and less destabilizing way to solve the vulnerability problem is to overwhelm and confuse China's targeting, which is the key to its A2/AD. Because forces that could do this would pose a significant threat without placing a premium on deep, early strikes, and because striking them in a comprehensive way would be very difficult and risky, they would add to stability rather than detract from it. Taking full advantage of information technology, the United States should shift toward such forces -- more distributed, networked, numerous, diverse, elusive, small, long-range, and hard-to-find -- while also exploiting two promising counter-offensive technologies: drones and cyberweapons. A more survivable U.S. posture along these lines would discourage Chinese preemptive attack, obviate the need for deep, early U.S. attacks, and allow time for a crisis to be defused. Having taken a long hiatus from transforming U.S. forces following September 11, 2001, the United States should resume its efforts and regain a commanding lead in the exploitation of information technology. This type of force will take years to field, but that is all the more reason to start now.
To complement a shift toward less targetable, more survivable forces, the United States should develop a strategy to defeat force projection by regional powers, of which China is the strongest but obviously not the only candidate. A2/AD works in both directions. If the United States (and its partners and allies) can use defensive measures to prevent international aggression, and if it is finding it increasingly difficult and costly to overcome the A2/AD of lesser powers, then it should turn the tables on those powers. To clarify, if preventing international aggression was the main reason for the United States to use force -- lesser ones being regime change, counterinsurgency, and humanitarian intervention -- then U.S. defense strategy should concentrate on it. Capabilities to counter force projection by regional aggressors would give the United States options to deter them, to provide time and space to defuse crises short of war, and to prevail militarily without necessarily firing the first shot or immediately escalating to attacks on an adversary's homeland. Partnerships with allies to develop their A2/AD capabilities would be critical in this plan.
To bring such a strategy to fruition, all U.S. military services, along with combatant commanders, would have to develop operational concepts not confined by current doctrine and force structure. Honing U.S. capabilities for regional A2/AD would exploit targeting technologies in which the U.S. military has and can retain superiority. The capabilities that come immediately to mind include anti-air, cyberwar, anti-naval forces, and C4ISR -- most of which exist in U.S. inventories and are undergoing continuous improvement. Furthermore, working to improve the defense forces of allies and partners would be a central element of such an approach. Other regional A2/AD capabilities worth considering (and more controversially) include new capabilities, such as land-based anti-ship missiles.
If the United States relied more on A2/AD capabilities of its own and its partners to prevent aggression, escalation would no longer be an urgent imperative; it could be undertaken only when no other good options remained. The United States could rely on regional partners to deploy their own A2/AD capabilities at the onset of trouble, while withholding its A2/AD measures until aggression was underway or certain. This would reduce both tensions before crises develop and the need to attack first. It would also permit time to defuse crises on favorable terms. Where China is concerned, a U.S. posture that is more clearly geared toward defeating international aggression, while also more survivable (and almost certainly less expensive), is less likely to stoke fear, distrust, and temptations to preempt than one that depends on attacking China at the outset of a conflict. The shift in emphasis to regional A2/AD would improve deterrence without raising the risks of escalation.
America's leaders should be careful not to let the demands of tactical-technical solutions to specific military problems constrain, much less dictate, their strategic choices. Future presidents will need a range of possible responses to the growth of Chinese power, ways to manage regional friction, and methods of channeling Sino-U.S. relations in positive directions. The most prudent long-term approach for U.S. strategists would be to adapt Air-Sea Battle capabilities in support of a new defense posture: one geared toward preventing regional aggression and relying on widely dispersed, mobile, and networked forces from all the armed services.
With the advent of Air-Sea Battle, there is a danger that the United States and China are both moving toward military postures and embracing operating concepts -- if not war-fighting plans -- that create spiraling incentives to act first. This has been evident for some years in Chinese military writings, and now it could be inferred from American military writings. The United States should counter Chinese A2/AD. But the goal must be to strengthen, not weaken, stability. Moreover, investment in new capabilities should follow strategy, not imply it -- all the more so when resources are tight and Sino-U.S. relations unsettled. As we make choices that will set terms of competition with China over the next century, all major investments, such as Air-Sea Battle, survivable strike forces, and A2/AD capabilities, should be weighed carefully based on what they contribute to our long-term need for security and stability. We cannot afford to make decisions today without thinking several moves ahead.
David Gompert is a senior fellow at RAND and professor at the U.S. Naval Academy. His most recent government position was as President Obama's principal deputy director of national intelligence.
When the U.S. Navy deploys a battle fleet on exercises, it takes the security of its aircraft carriers very seriously indeed.
At least a dozen warships provide a physical guard while the technical wizardry of the world's only military superpower offers an invisible shield to detect and deter any intruders.
That is the theory. Or, rather, was the theory.
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Uninvited guest: A Chinese Song Class submarine, like the one that sufaced by the U.S.S. Kitty Hawk
American military chiefs have been left dumbstruck by an undetected Chinese submarine popping up at the heart of a recent Pacific exercise and close to the vast U.S.S. Kitty Hawk - a 1,000ft supercarrier with 4,500 personnel on board.
By the time it surfaced the 160ft Song Class diesel-electric attack submarine is understood to have sailed within viable range for launching torpedoes or missiles at the carrier.
According to senior Nato officials the incident caused consternation in the U.S. Navy.
The Americans had no idea China's fast-growing submarine fleet had reached such a level of sophistication, or that it posed such a threat.
One Nato figure said the effect was "as big a shock as the Russians launching Sputnik" - a reference to the Soviet Union's first orbiting satellite in 1957 which marked the start of the space age.
The incident, which took place in the ocean between southern Japan and Taiwan, is a major embarrassment for the Pentagon.
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Battle stations: The Kitty Hawk carries 4,500 personnel
The lone Chinese vessel slipped past at least a dozen other American warships which were supposed to protect the carrier from hostile aircraft or submarines.
And the rest of the costly defensive screen, which usually includes at least two U.S. submarines, was also apparently unable to detect it.
According to the Nato source, the encounter has forced a serious re-think of American and Nato naval strategy as commanders reconsider the level of threat from potentially hostile Chinese submarines.
It also led to tense diplomatic exchanges, with shaken American diplomats demanding to know why the submarine was "shadowing" the U.S. fleet while Beijing pleaded ignorance and dismissed the affair as coincidence.
Analysts believe Beijing was sending a message to America and the West demonstrating its rapidly-growing military capability to threaten foreign powers which try to interfere in its "backyard".
The People's Liberation Army Navy's submarine fleet includes at least two nuclear-missile launching vessels.
Its 13 Song Class submarines are extremely quiet and difficult to detect when running on electric motors.
Commodore Stephen Saunders, editor of Jane's Fighting Ships, and a former Royal Navy anti-submarine specialist, said the U.S. had paid relatively little attention to this form of warfare since the end of the Cold War.
He said: "It was certainly a wake-up call for the Americans.
"It would tie in with what we see the Chinese trying to do, which appears to be to deter the Americans from interfering or operating in their backyard, particularly in relation to Taiwan."
In January China carried a successful missile test, shooting down a satellite in orbit for the first time.
After Beijing sends a frigate to the Med, a leading author poses a chilling question... How long until a Chinese aircraft carrier sails up the Thames?
Almost 600 years have passed since Chinese warships last cruised the coasts of Africa. But now they are back.
In 1418, China’s Ming dynasty sent its eunuch admiral Zheng He into the Indian Ocean at the head of the largest armada the world had ever seen.
Sweeping aside all opposition, Zheng suppressed pirates, extorted payoffs from princes and sent missions as far as Kenya and Arabia.
And then, as suddenly as they had come, the Chinese warships disappeared.
Too close for comfort? The Chinese frigate Xuzhou, which was on patrol in the Mediterranean last month, but its mission was not purely humanitarian
But history never repeats itself exactly. The Chinese knew almost nothing about Africa in 1418; now China is Africa’s biggest trading partner. Hundreds of thousands of Chinese work there, in everything from oil and iron to farming and finance.
Last month, Beijing took another step beyond anything that happened 600 years ago.
With Libya teetering on the brink of civil war, it ordered the 4,000-ton frigate Xuzhou through the Suez Canal to cover the escape of 30,000 Chinese workers. For the first time in history, a Chinese warship sailed on the Mediterranean Sea.
But the Xuzhou’s mission is not just humanitarian. If democratic governments rise out of the ashes of Middle Eastern autocracy, they are unlikely to be very pro-Western.
They will be looking for new friends; and the Xuzhou is there to show the flag.
If, on the other hand, the geriatric strongmen who rule the Arab world hang on, they too will be looking for new friends, because now they know that America will not take care of them. For them, too, the Xuzhou is showing the flag.
Who rules the waves? Britain is planning to build two new aircraft carriers to replace the two it currently has
Cuts: Defence Secretary Liam Fox has met some astonishing suggestions to paper over cracks in Britain's forces
The big winner in the Jasmine Revolution may well be China.
Decades from now, the voyage of the Xuzhou may come to symbolise the moment when the balance of power really shifted from West to East.
But like many such turning points, its consequences will take years to play out. The United States currently has 11 aircraft carrier groups that project its power anywhere in the world. Britain has two. France and Russia each have one. China has none at all.
China has certainly grown strong in submarines and land-based anti-ship missiles, and would make the US pay heavily if it ever came to conflict in the Taiwan Strait. But beyond its own waters, China could not hope to win a fight.
The West still rules the waves but the Xuzhou may represent the shape of things to come.
Last week, it was announced that Chinese defence spending would rise by 12.7 per cent this year to £56 billion.
According to Chinese military and political sources, the country could also launch its first aircraft carrier this year, a year earlier than many military analysts had expected. The government only confirmed the closely-guarded plans for it in December.
The People’s Liberation Navy has been building ships furiously since 2001, and plans to phase out its older models this decade. It showed off new nuclear submarines in 2009, and is building a state-of-the-art submarine base on Hainan.
China’s first stealth fighter plane made its debut flight this January, and by the autumn its first aircraft carrier will probably be ready for trials. By 2020, China might have three conventional and two nuclear-powered carriers.
And as the Chinese navy grows, Western strength may shrink. Desperate to cut costs in the wake of the financial collapse, but terrified of touching domestic entitlements, Western governments are greedily eyeing their defence budgets.
The US Navy currently has 285 ships, well below the 313 it says it needs to do its job; and with the 2011 defence budget still stuck in Congress, further reductions seem likely.
Britain’s Royal Navy remains the world’s second-strongest fleet and plans to upgrade its carriers. But confronting a fiscal mess even worse than America’s, Britain is decommissioning its old carriers before the new ones are even built.
Investment: China tested its new stealth fighter jet, the J-20, on January 11
There have been some astonishing suggestions for ways to paper over the cracks in Britain’s defences.
One is that an American amphibious assault ship should sail up the Thames to protect London during the 2012 Olympics.
Another is that Britain should just build one new carrier rather than two and then merge the carrier forces of the Royal Navy and its ancient rival in France.
In the past few months, Europe has learned what happens when independent governments share a currency. We should not repeat that experiment with a navy.
As the crisis worsens in Libya, the United States and Britain are considering a no-fly zone to stop Gaddafi’s helicopter gunships from massacring rebels.
If it came to this, there will be real fighting – Libya’s 50 SAM-6 missiles along the coast will have to be destroyed. As US Central Command’s General James Mattis observed this week: ‘No illusions here. It would be a military operation. It wouldn’t simply be telling people not to fly airplanes.’
But France, Russia and China resolutely oppose force. An Anglo-French carrier force would be impotent.
In the Libyan case, land-based RAF Tornados and Typhoons flying from Cyprus could share the burden with planes flying from the USS Enterprise, but we cannot assume that every crisis will be within striking distance of an outpost of empire.
Rising power: President Hu Jintao (front centre) and his minsters have been building ships at a furious pace
Sharing carriers without sharing policy is a plan for paralysis. The West must face two new realities. First, the challenges to nation-states from anarchic, non-state forces – revolutionaries, terrorists, pirates – will only increase.
There will be times when the only way to save lives is via military force; and for the foreseeable future, only the West can provide enough of it.
Second, power and wealth are inexorably shifting from West to East. The industrial revolution began in Britain and unleashed energies that thrust Western Europe into global dominance in the 19th Century.
When North America industrialised, it took Europe’s place and, now that East Asia
If, for instance, China can be persuaded to keep using its growing naval power to curb pirates and evacuate refugees, everyone will benefit.
But if the West abruptly backs away from the expensive job of maintaining global order, chaos will descend. In that case, the 21st Century’s power shift could be as violent as those of the 19th and 20th Centuries.
In the 1430s, China’s rulers made a conscious decision to end Zheng He’s great voyages. The emperors had sound fiscal reasons for this, just as Western governments have sound fiscal reasons for cutting naval spending today.
When money is tight, economies must be made, and what a fleet costs is easier to see than what benefits it brings.
So China withdrew from the Indian Ocean, the fleet rotted, and its records were lost (or even burned).
And how did that turn out? Well, within 75 years the Portuguese sailor Vasco da Gama had entered the Indian Ocean from the Atlantic.
Twenty years after that, Portuguese ships reached China. Europeans steadily pushed into East Asia’s sphere of trade. The rest, of course, is history.
There is a lesson here. The West should not easily relinquish its control of the waves. Otherwise, how long will it be before we see a Chinese aircraft carrier in the Thames?
China's new 'carrier killer' missile won't stop us doing our job, says U.S. navy commander
A new much-feared missile that has become a symbol of China's growing military power will not change the way the U.S. Navy operates in the Pacific, a senior navy commander has warned.
The 'carrier killer' Dong Feng 21D missile has the potential to change the balance of power in Asia, where U.S. aircraft carrier battle groups have been in charge since the Second World War.
But Vice Admiral Scott van Buskirk, commander of the vast U.S. 7th Fleet, said that the Navy does not see the weapon as creating any insurmountable vulnerability for the American carriers.
Frightening power: A military vehicle carries the Dong Feng 21D missile, known among defence analysts as the 'carrier killer,' through Tiananmen Square during a military parade in Beijing
Speaking from the bridge of the USS George Washington in the western Pacific, Mr van Buskirk said: 'It's not the Achilles heel of our aircraft carriers or our Navy. It is one weapons system, one technology that is out there.'
The DF 21D is thought to be capable of striking a powerfully-defended moving target — like the USS George Washington — with pinpoint precision, the Associated Press reports.
The missile would penetrate defences because its incredible speed from launch would not allow enough time for carriers or other large vessels to complete counter-measures.
Vulnerable?: The USS George Washington, one of the navy's crown jewels in the Pacific where the U.S. Navy has ruled the waves since the Second World War
That could seriously hurt the U.S.'s ability to intervene in any potential conflict over Taiwan or North Korea, as well as deny American ships safe access to international waters near China's 11,200-mile long coastline.
The technology and cost involved in developing such a weapon is so great that the Soviets gave up on a similar project.
Van Buskirk, who commands a fleet of up to 70 ships and 40,000 sailors and Marines in the Pacific and Indian Oceans, said the capabilities of the Chinese missile are as yet unproven.
Unfazed: Vice Admiral Scott van Buskirk, speaking on the bridge of the USS George Washington aircraft carrier,said China's new 'carrier killer' missile will not force the Navy to change the way it operates
Gearing up: China's new stealth fighter jet, the J-20, the country's first radar-evading combat aircraft, during one of the many test runs at an airbase in south west China last month
'Any new capability is something that we try to monitor,' he said.
'If there wasn't this to point to as a game changer, there would be something else.
'That term has been bandied about for many things. It really depends on how you define the game, whether it really changes it or not.'
The Vice Admiral spoke out a month after it was revealed that China may have started testing a new stealth aircraft - putting it well ahead of Western predictions that a revamped air force would not be ready for take-off for another decade.
Show of force: As China's confidence grows on the world stage, the country's leaders seem to content to let the West have a glimpse of its emerging military muscle
Photographs of the J-20 taking high-speed taxi tests at an airfield appeared on several websites in early January, fuelling speculation that Beijing is not particularly concerned about keeping one of its latest weapons under wraps - at least unofficially.
The country's growing economic muscle and the rise in its military capability have seen the communist state's confidence grow on the world stage.
But China's Foreign Ministry insists its military is one of peace, saying: 'We pose no threat to other countries.'
China tests ballistic missile that could sink U.S. aircraft carriers: Tensions with Washington grow as Beijing boosts military might
China is stepping up testing on a space missile that could sink American aircraft carriers in the Pacific, a U.S. naval commander warned yesterday.
The news increased tensions between Washington and Beijing as concerns grow that China is boosting its military might.
The DF 21D's uniqueness is in its ability to hit a powerfully defended moving target with pinpoint precision - a capability U.S. naval planners are scrambling to deal with.
Ballistic: China is developing a missile designed to sink an aircraft carrier, jeapordising the U.S.' naval supremacy in Asia
Global military power: U.S. Navy Admiral Robert F. Willard believes China has global aspirations
The Chinese military are also expected to launch their first aircraft carrier next year - a year earlier than anticipated by U.S. experts.
But China's Foreign Ministry insists his military is one of peace, saying: 'We pose no threat to other countries.'
Admiral Robert Willard told Japan's Asahi Shimbun newspaper he believes the Chinese anti-ship ballistic missile programme has achieved 'initial operational capability.'
This means a workable design has been settled on and is being further developed.
He added that he thinks China has global aspirations, and wants to extend its influence further than their 'near seas'.
China wants to become a 'global military (power)' Willard said. 'In the capabilities that we're seeing develop, that is fairly obvious.'
Known among defence analysts as a 'carrier killer,' the Dong Feng 21D missile would be a game-changer in the Asian security environment, where U.S. Navy aircraft carriers have ruled the waves since the end of World War II.
The system's component parts have likely been designed and tested, but the U.S. has not yet detected an over-water test to see how well it can target a moving ship, Willard said.
Years of tests are probably still needed before the missile can be fully deployed, he said.
Moving target:The aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln, one of six aircraft carriers in the U.S. Pacific Fleet. In total the U.S. Navy has 200 ships, 2,000 aircraft and 250,000 personnel deployed in Pacific waters
The system requires state-of-the-art guidance systems, and some experts say it will take China a decade or so to field a reliable threat.
The missile is considered a key component of China's strategy of denying U.S. planes and ships access to waters off its coast.
The strategy includes overlapping layers of air defense systems, naval assets such as submarines, and advanced ballistic missile systems - all woven together with a network of satellites.
At its most capable, the DF 21D could be launched from land with enough accuracy to penetrate the defenses of even the most advanced moving aircraft carrier at a distance of more than 900 miles.
That could seriously weaken Washington's ability to intervene in any potential conflict over Taiwan or North Korea, as well as deny U.S. ships safe access to international waters near China's 11,200-mile-long coastline.
Not threatening: Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Jiang Yu, insists their military pursues a defensive national policy
Meanwhile, Chinese military and political sources claim their first aircraft carrier could be put in use next year, a year earlier than US military analysts had anticipated, further emphasising the state's growing maritime power and assertiveness.
Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu today referred questions about Willard's comments to military departments, but reiterated China's insistence that its expanding military threatens no one.
'I can say that China pursues a defensive national policy. ... We pose no threat to other countries. We will always be a force in safeguarding regional peace and stability,' Jiang told reporters at a regularly scheduled news conference.
While China's Defense Ministry never comments on new weapons before they become operational, the DF 21D - which would travel at 10 times the speed of sound and carry conventional payloads - has been much discussed by military buffs online.
China began developing the Dong-Feng (East WInd) 21 in the 1960s, although it was not deployed until 1991. Latest DF-21 models in development are believed to be armed with 300kt nuclear warheads and will be the world's first and only anti-ship ballistic missile (ASBM). The DF-21 has also been developed into a space capable anti-satellite/anti-missile weapon carrier.
When launched, the missile follows a sub-orbital ballistic flightpath. The missile is only guided during the relatively brief initial powered phase of flight and its course is subsequently governed by the laws of orbital mechanics and ballistics.
A new power on the high seas... China to build its first aircraft carrier as Britain scraps hers
China is preparing to build its first aircraft carrier – as Britain’s once-proud Royal Navy shrinks to its smallest size since the days of Henry VIII.
The Chinese move comes weeks after David Cameron axed Britain’s carrier fleet and halved the overall number of warships to 25.
Even though two super-carriers – HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince Charles – are being built at a cost of £5.6 billion, China’s naval plans will see it dwarf the UK’s dwindling power as a seafaring nation.
For the scrap heap: HMS Illustrious is due to be scrapped by 2014 following the fate of Ark Royal and Invincible
The carrier HMS Ark Royal was decommissioned under the recent Strategic Defence and Security Review. Sister carrier Invincible has already been axed and a third, Illustrious, is to be withdrawn by 2014.
The Chinese will launch their first carrier in 2015, a year after Britain’s first new carrier is scheduled to be at sea and, by 2020, China will have a huge carrier fleet on top of its 27 destroyers, 52 frigates and 66 submarines.
Tory MP Patrick Mercer, a former Army officer, said last night: ‘The defence review decided the main threat to this country came from terrorists, rather than other states.
That is why our Royal Navy in particular has been so heavily run down. There were many of us who warned that the threat from China was a major one. Now, here’s the proof.’
China will challenge America’s naval supremacy in the Pacific.
Military might: Fears have been raised over the growth of the Chinese army which has announced it will launch its first aircraft carrier in 2015
Its first aircraft carrier may already be under construction, diplomats believe, after an official government report said China wants to be ‘a great naval power’.
The report confirmed that the aircraft carrier plan had been approved last year and said Beijing viewed naval supremacy as ‘China’s historic task for the entire 21st Century’.
China, which already has 1.6 million serving in the world’s biggest army, now has a navy of 250,000 men and has invested heavily in ships and hardware over the past decade.
It has secretly built a base, thought to be capable of housing up to 20 nuclear submarines, at the tip of its southernmost province, Hainan Island.
Bygone times: HMS Ark Royal returns to Portsmouth for the last time on December 3 after 25 years of service
Details of its aircraft carrier programme, contained in a State Oceanic Administration report, were disclosed by a newspaper in Japan where officials have for years been troubled by China’s growing naval might.
Chinese aircraft carriers will be a direct challenge to America, which last month sent the USS George Washington to South Korean waters after its neighbour North Korea shelled one of its islands.
The Chinese move will also alarm Vietnam and the Philippines, who have long-running disputes with China over the sovereignty of chains of Pacific islands that lie on vital oil and trade routes.
With their strategic importance to both China and America, disputed strings of coral atolls such as the Spratly and Paracel Islands are seen by analysts as potential triggers for global conflict.
Beijing has asserted its sovereignty over the deserted islands aggressively, leading to skirmishes with Japan and other neighbours who view the arrival of Chinese aircraft carriers as ‘a total game-changer’.
China’s aircraft carrier programme will propel it into an exclusive military club. The US currently has more than every other country in the world combined, with 67 in total and 11 in service.
China 'has weapon arsenal comparable with West', says country's defence minister
China's military now possesses most of the sophisticated weapon systems found in the arsenals of developed Western nations, the country's defence minister has said.
Many of those systems match or are close to matching the capabilities of their counterparts in the West, Liang Guanglie said in a rare interview posted on the ministry's Web site today.
'This is an extraordinary achievements that speaks to the level of our military's modernization and the huge change in our country's technological strength,' Liang said.
Military might: Chinese army tanks on a military exercise in central China's Henan Province - the country now has most of the sophisticated weapon systems found in developed Western nations, it has said
Liang cited the J-10 fighter jet, latest-generation tanks, navy destroyers, and cruise and intercontinental ballistic missiles as among the Chinese defense industry's biggest achievements.
The military's goal is to achieve complete mechanization and computerization by 2020 and produce a fully modern force before mid-century, Liang said.
The minister's remarks come ahead of China's biggest military parade in a decade scheduled for the October 1 national day in Beijing.
That event will showcase much of the country's most advanced equipment, the fruit of China's booming economy and nearly two decades of annual double digit percentage increases in the defence budget.
Liang said he believed the parade would 'display the image of a mighty force, a civilized force, a victorious force.'
The 2.3 million-member People's Liberation Army is the world's largest standing military and its modernization has been accompanied by gradual steps toward greater engagement with the outside world.
Delegates enter the Great Hall of the People to attend the Second Session of the 11th National Committee of the CPPCC on March 8, 2009 in Beijing, China. China has started its annual parliamentary sessions, the National People's Congress (NPC) and its advisory auxiliary, Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC). Main topics focused in discussions are on the economy and employment. (Photo by China Photos/Getty Images) #
A delegate of an ethnic minority group leaves after a plenary session of the annual National People's Congress (NPC) on March 9, 2009 in Beijing, China. Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao has announced a set of plans and polices by the Chinese government to cope with the tough economic situation and stimulate the Chinese economy. (Photo by Feng Li/Getty Images) #
Hostesses pose to take photos in front of the Great Hall of the People during a plenary session of the annual National People's Congress (NPC) on March 9, 2009 in Beijing, China. Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao has announced a set of plans and polices by the Chinese government to cope with the tough economic situation and stimulate the Chinese economy. (Photo by Feng Li/Getty Images) #
The delegates walk into the Great Hall of the People before a plenary session of the annual National People's Congress (NPC) on March 9, 2009 in Beijing, China. Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao has announced a set of plans and polices by the Chinese government to cope with the tough economic situation and stimulate the Chinese economy. (Photo by Feng Li/Getty Images) #
Security staffs leading police dogs patrol at Tiananmen Square after the opening ceremony of the second session of the 11th CPPCC National Committee on March 3, 2009 in Beijing, China. China has started its annual parliamentary sessions, the National People's Congress (NPC) and its advisory auxiliary, Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), which respectively opens on March 5 and March 3. (Photo by China Photos/Getty Images) #
A delegate sits with a copy of government work reports on the table prior to the opening session of the National People's Congress in Beijing's Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, Thursday, March 5, 2009. China opened the annual session of its legislature Thursday, its first since the global financial meltdown started last year. (AP Photo/Alexander F. Yuan) #
A delegates walks on the stair inside the Great of the People during the opening session of the National People's Congress in Beijing, China, Thursday, March 5, 2009. China opened the annual session of its legislature Thursday, its first since the global financial meltdown started last year. (AP Photo/Andy Wong) #
Paramilitary police stand guard minutes before the flag raising at Tiananmen square in Beijing, China, Thursday, March 5, 2009. While the nearly 3,000 delegates to the National People's Congress met, rings of uniformed and plainclothes police sealed off Tiananmen and kept ordinary Chinese and the normal hordes of tourists away. (AP Photo/ Elizabeth Dalziel) #
A Chinese national flag is reflected on a fashion poster at a shopping mall in Beijing, China, on Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2012. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu) #
Chinese paramilitary police officers stand guard as they seal off an underpass walkway leading to Tiananmen Square during the plenary session of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference held at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing Sunday, March 8, 2009. Security in the area around the Great Hall has been increased in an effort to prevent any protests during the annual meeting of China's National People's Congress (NPC) and Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC). (AP Photo/Andy Wong) #
Chinese military troops stand at attention for visiting U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta at the Bayi Building in Beijing, on September 18, 2012. Panetta was on the second official stop of a three-nation tour to Japan, China and New Zealand. (Reuters/Larry Downing)
A Chinese rocket loaded with Venezuelan satellite VRSS-1, a remote sensing satellite, lifts off from the launch pad in the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center, Gansu province, on September 29, 2012. (Reuters/Stringer)
A Chinese paramilitary soldier stands guard in front of the Great Hall of the People at Tiananmen square in Beijing, China, Thursday, March 5, 2009. While the nearly 3,000 delegates to the National People's Congress met, rings of uniformed and plainclothes police sealed off Tiananmen and kept ordinary Chinese and the normal hordes of tourists away. (AP Photo/ Elizabeth Dalziel) #