An assessment of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (Navy) – PLA(N) – inadvertently released by the US Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) suggests that China will build over the next 10-15 years a naval force increasingly equipped for maritime security missions and humanitarian relief operations well beyond its traditional operating areas around Taiwan and the South China Sea.
At the same time, ONI assesses that the PLA(N) will continue to modernise its warfighting capabilities to shape a balanced maritime force commensurate with a shift from a strategy of coastal defence to a more forward-leaning naval strategy of offshore defence.
The report, entitled 'A Modern Navy with Chinese Characteristics' and dated August 2009, was briefly placed on an open source website by the ONI in November 2009 before being withdrawn from public view. However, in that time a copy of the document was downloaded by the Federation of American Scientists and remains accessible on its website.
According to the ONI, the development of the PLA(N) over the past decade goes well beyond the introduction of new equipment. Its report states: "Recognising that it takes more than technology to create a capable navy, China has also actively pursued the modernisation of its doctrine, organisation, and training with the ultimate goal of developing a professional force. While much work remains, trends in recent years indicate the PLA(N) is beginning to 'operationalise' its modern force, taking on new and more challenging missions."
By Cmde Ranjit B Rai (Retd)Published :January 2010
New Delhi. The race between India and China in the 21st Century to wield influence in the Indian Ocean Region, commonly referred to as the IOR, has just begun. Both nations with growing economies are chalking their maritime strategies and expanding their navies to maintain stability along the sea lanes of communications (SLOCs) and to safeguard their respective long-term interests.
The SLOCs in the IOR are vital for the world’s economy, as two thirds of the world trade and 60% of the world’s oil and gas transits the region, and large energy resources emanate from the Middle East. US Rear Admiral Alfred Mahan, the great 19th century strategic thinker, had predicted that the future of the world in the 21st century would be decided in the waters of the Indian Ocean.
Being the major nation in the IOR with a peninsular promontory that juts into the Indian Ocean, India holds many geographic advantages, and responsibilities, of proximity to the waters. And as a modern, liberal democracy, India is easily accepted by the littoral and smaller island states as well as Australia, Japan and USA as a responsible player in the IOR.
In fact, due to the growing cooperation with them, this emerging informal grouping of four, that is, India, USA, Japan and Australia, has also been referred to as the QUAD. The Harvard educated Vice Admiral Hideaki Kaneda from Japan’s Okazaki Institute speaking at the United Service Institution USI) Conference here on ‘Rising China’ in November 2009, referred o the QUAD countries as likeminded nations, with strong navies. He also went on to suggest the need to demarcate the international commonly used sea lanes in IOR with jurisdiction by Japan, India, Australia and United States (JIAUS) and to extend it to the South China Seas (JAUS).
This exclusion of China was not aken well by the Chinese delegate Ms Han Hua, a US educated nuclear trategist from Beijing University. She explained China’s dependence on he SLOCs, especially the strait of Hormuz and the Malacca Straits, and called this China’s area of national interest.
The closure of the Hormuz or Malacca for more than a few days will ee a rise in oil and insurance prices, and geo-political upheavals. China’s nterests on this score would need to be addressed, she said.
In recent years China has extended ts interests and investments into Africa and Iran for resources, and is practising cheque book diplomacy, like Japan did in the past, especially for port development in the IOR, to create what is referred to as China’s ‘ String of Pearls’ strategy. China also supplies arms to African states, Pakistan and IOR countries at nominal prices, hoping to turn them in to client states, and wean them away from competing interests of India and the West.
More recently, China was the major supplier of arms and support to Sri Lanka in the six-month war, that the Sri Lankan military fought with verve and latest technology in 2009, to decimate the LTTE.
But more worrying is the rise of Chinese nat ional i sm and assertiveness, which Fareed Zakaria of the Newsweek says is, “like Germany in the late 19th century growing rapidly but uncertainly in to a global system in which it feels it deserves more attention and honor.”
This could lead to disagreements in the IOR with the Indian Navy’s view, articulated by the former Chief of Naval Staff and presently India’s High Commissioner in New Zealand Admiral Sureesh Mehta.
He has stated that the Indian Navy had taken on the mantle to look after the security of the IOR along with the navies of the littoral states. “We see the Indian Navy as a significant stabilizing force in the Indian Ocean region, which safeguards traffic bound not only for our own ports, but also the flow of hydrocarbons and strategically important cargo to and from the rest of the world across the strategic waterways close to our shores.”
The Chinese refer to India’s influence and geographic advantage of the Andaman Islands in the IOR, and gathering of the 28 IOR Naval Chiefs in the bi-annual Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS) initiated in February 2008 by Admiral Mehta, as India’s ‘Iron Curtain’.
China is not an invitee or an observer to the IONS, but has indicated that its national interests extend to the SLOCs in the IOR.
The next IONS will be held in Abu Dhabi, UAE from 12th May, under the Chairmanship of the UAE Naval Commander Rear Admiral Ahmed AL Sabab AL Tonaigi. Indian Chief of Naval Staff (CNS) Admiral Nirmal Verma will then pass on the IONS baton to him.
The UAE Admiral is regarded as a friend in India, which also holds that the Gulf states themselves have a very important role in ensuring security of the Gulf waters as well as the Arabian Sea and Gulf of Aden.
Many nations have applied to be invited to IONS as observers, while China expects to be invited, and has objected to joint exercises by the QUAD countries. IONS has commenced essay competitions on maritime subjects like EEZ cooperation, to elicit views.
RISE OF THE CHINESE PLA NAVY
An extract of China’s 2008 Defence White Paper quoted above, and the growth of the PLA Navy in recent years, is in keeping with China’s increasing emphasis on maritime power.
Interestingly Deng Xioaping who scripted the four-pronged strategy of development for China which included military modernization, had stated: “Bide your time and hide your capabilities, and, be not a leader till you are one.”
Deng went on to liberalize China’s economy in 1979 and stated he did not mind the colour of the cat as long as it caught mice, implying China needed to achieve results at any cost. His strategy enabled China to steadily bide its time for three decades, drum up its economy and modernize its armed forces with unprecedented speed, not witnessed in recent history.
The prowess of the Chinese to conduct a grand 2008 Olympics and the show of armaments at the 1st October, 2009 parade was their coming of age party.
In a calibrated manner, President Hu Jintao, now at the helm, and a former Governor of Tibet (which needs noting as China has claims on Tawang and Arunachal as part of Tibet), has altered course of the strategic posture of China. Hu wants China to become a leader nation in the region, and to take a proactive leadership role in world affairs and extend the range of China’s vital interests.
THE CHINESE NAVAL EXPANSION
China has a very large and robust shipbuilding industry and its powerful Central Military Commission (CMC), which monitors and tasks the armed forces, has ensured the development of the third generation warships as a key area for naval modernization.
The new developments include the commissioning of new guided missile destroyers called Type-051C, Type- 052C, and upgrade of the 9,000 ton Sovremenny destroyers supplied by Russia with Sunburn SSMs, and the Type-054A frigates which are equipped with weapon systems which resemble, at least in looks, the US Navy’s Aegis Combat System.
The warships have Harbin Eurocopter anti-submarine and utility helicopters, C-802 type anti-ship Ying Ji-Eagle Strike with sea skimming and radar homing capability, Haihongqi HHQ-9 and Hongi HQ-16 anti-air missile systems with a short reaction time and good anti-jamming capabilities, torpedoes, and comprehensive electronic warfare systems. Some of these latest ships with C4ISR capabilities and very impressive stealth features, have been deployed off the Gulf of Aden.
Concurrently, the enhancement of the PLA(N) fleet of 63 to around 78 conventional warships is planned for 2020, with five/six units of SSBNs (Jin), six of SSNs (Shang), one Xia with JL-1/2 missiles, and over 50 conventional submarines of the Kilo Type to dominate the waters off Taiwan, should the US Navy carrier task forces come to the aid of Taiwan.
The submarines and its naval fleet of SU-27 fighters, China claims, is to merely provide deterrence against USA. Five new landing ship docks (LPDs) and a slew of support fleet tankers and support ships for control of spacecraft with China’s credible nuclear strike capability, do indeed provide deterrence.
Cyber warfare is an important plank in the Chinese military repertoire. Ordinary websites as well as those of government agencies around the world have been hacked by the Chinese, apparently as part of an exercise to cripple world communications if required ever by Beijing.
Former Soviet Kuznetsov class aircraft carrier Variag, acquired by China and now named Shi Lang after the Chinese General who took possession of Taiwan in 1681, has been converted into a flying training carrier at Dalian and as per reports the keel of a larger carrier is to be laid.
The PLA Navy has currently built an Order of Battle (ORBAT) of three fleets, Northern, Central and Southern, of 54 major surface combatants, compared to Indian Navy’s 16. It has 18 guided missile destroyers (DGGs) of Type-051 Luda class with air defence capabilities, diverse submarines, and 49 FFGs. As per Dr Huang Jing of the Lee Kuan School of Public Policy, a renowned expert on China, the new PLA platforms are larger and are being constantly improved.
Among the 25 newly added major combatants, the noteworthy ones include:
* Two Luzhou Type-051C DDGs (115 Shenyang and 116 Shijiazhuang)
* Two Luyang-II Type-052C DDGs (170 Lanzhou and 171 Haikou)
* Four upgraded Sovremennyclass DDGs (Project 956: 136 Hangzhou and 137 Fuzhou; and Project 936/EM: 138 Taizhou and 139 Ningbo)
* Two Luyang Type-052B DDGs (168 Guangzhou and 169 Wuhan)
China’s Defence Paper 2008, issued in early 2009 states the duty of the Chinese Armed Forces is “the protection of national sovereignty, security, territorial integrity, safeguarding of the interests of national development, and the interests of the Chinese people above all else.” On the role of the Navy specifically, it goes on to state, the duty is to “gradually develop its capabilities of conducting cooperation in distant waters.” Surely this includes the IOR in the not so distant a future.
PLA NAVY ENTERS THE INDIA OCEAN
In a bold blue water expeditionary role, the Chinese Navy stationed a Naval Task Force of three ships continuously off the Gulf of Aden from 6th January 2009 beginning with 5,850-tonne Luhai class Wuhan (No 169) and the 6,100-tonne Luyang class Haikou (No 171) and its largest 23,000 tonne fleet replenishment ship Weishanhu (No 887) from Sanya’s Walong Naval base on Hainan island with specially trained commandoes (PLA Marines).
Currently the FFG 525 Ma’anshan, FFG 526 Wenzou and supply ship Qiandaohu from the Zhoushan naval base in Zhejiang Province under Rear Admiral Wang Zhiguo, are operating in the PLA(N)’s fourth deployment away from its shores.
Recently, PLA Navy has requested to be the co-chair of the monthly Shared Awareness and DEconfliction (SHADE) meeting held in Bahrain presently co-chaired by the US Commander Maritime Forces (CMF) and European Union (EU). The meetings, established in December 2008, have become an important venue where 15 different navies, including the Indian, are invited along with regional nations affected by piracy, and the merchant community.
The SHADE meeting discusses and formulates the ‘best practices’ to deal with the challenges of piracy, which does not seem to be abating. China, already an attendee of the meetings, has become active in the group. The Chinese delegate at the last meeting also suggested that areas of patrol in the IOR should be designated, and designated nation-wise, following the Obama-Hu Jintao Beijing meeting in November.
India’s deployment of INS Tabar and LST Shardul and CGS Varuna end-October to Seychelles and Mauritius and the announcement that it was building a radar chain for the defence of the Maldives and Seychelles, and then INS Savitri being stationed in the Seychelles and Maldives area for anti-piracy in early December, has been noted by the Chinese.
Rear Admiral Scott E Sanders, Commander CTF- 151 on flagship USS Chosin, which is engaged 24 x 7 in anti piracy patrols off the waters off Somalia, recently visited Rear Admiral Wang Zhiguo, the Commander of the Chinese Task Force 529, aboard Peoples Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) Ship Zhou Shan. The occurrence of such a visit in the middle of the Gulf of Aden is a clear sign that western coordination with PLA Navy is increasing.
The Chinese Navy has also installed its own web-based internet service with dedicated satellites to communicate worldwide.
In contrast, the Indian Navy still relies on INMARSAT and its low bit rate HF/VHF Link II system, awaiting a Navy dedicated satellite which ISRO proposes to launch in 2010. The US Navy from Fifth Fleet HQ in Bahrain, UK via INMARSAT, NATO from HQ Northwood and EU have set up web sites for piracy patrol data and for coordination.
On 18th October, China’s DDG ‘Shijiazhuang’ and the replenishment ship ‘Hongze Lake’ under the command of Rear Admiral Wang Fushan, Deputy Commander of the Chinese North Sea Fleet, sailed for Chile, Peru, Ecuador and French Polynesia to demonstrate goodwill and naval diplomacy employed by most navies.
INDIAN NAVY’S STRATEGY AND DOCTRINE
The Indian Navy has obviously taken the rise of the Chinese Navy in account and issued a Maritime Military Strategy document which clearly lists the tasks of the Indian Navy in the 21st Century and in the IOR.
The Indian Maritime Doctrine (BR 8) re-issued in 2009 by the Navy, specifies the primary maritime areas of interest besides India’s EEZ. The list includes the out of area Straits of Malacca and Singapore, the Sunda, Lombok, Hormuz, Bab el Mandab Straits, the Cape of Good Hope, and the Mozambique Channel. These are also choke points where China has deep interests to keep the sea lanes of communications (SLOCs) open for its vital trade at all times.
China’s defence paper also states the PLAN will continue to “upgrade its weaponry and equipment system, with efforts being made to build new types of submarines, destroyers, frigates and aircraft, forming a preliminary weaponry and equipment system with second-generation equipment as the core and the third generation as the backbone.”
The overall aim of China is couched and linked with the words ‘a peaceful rise for a harmonious world’, something that the great Chinese philosopher Confucius advocated and is a belief of the common Chinese people.
China today is a world economic power with the third largest 4.1 trillion dollar economy, after USA’s $14 and Japan’s $9 trillion.
It holds huge foreign exchange reserves abroad. It is now displaying assertiveness and ambitious desires to match the sole super power, USA. Therefore, Chinese analysts explain the statements in the defence paper to include Chinese interests the world over.
All through history, ‘great power’ status of nations has been associated with possession of strong maritime power and ‘great power’ status of nations has been associated with possession of strong blue water navies, that can operate in distant waters.
In the 19th century, the ‘Sun Never Set On The British Empire’, and in the 20th century and presently, USA and its Navy has worldwide presence. The ancient Greeks coined the term “thallasocracy” meaning “rule of the sea”, to describe a state with maritime and naval supremacy of the state.
Also, if history is to go by, the rise of any new power in history has not been peaceful. So how China’s equations emerge, particularly with the US, and India in the Indian Ocean Region, is to be seen.
The current rise of China would be one of the most cataclysmic events that will shape events in the 21st century.
India, as China’s neighbour, and dubbed the other rising power in the region, will have to take note and accommodate and cope with the rise of China with its own rise.
More than once, Indian naval chiefs have stated that Indian Navy would have to achieve the ability to safeguard India’s interests abroad, especially as India has invested in oil exploration and extraction in far off places like Sakhalin in Russia, Viet Nam and Africa.
The Indian diaspora is also settled in distant lands. Just before demitting office, Admiral Sureesh Mehta the Chairman Chiefs of Staff Committee and Chief of Naval Staff speaking at the National Maritime Foundation on National Security stated India could no longer think of competing with China in economy, infrastructure and defence spending or match China force for force, but could maintain a qualitative maritime advantage, and there is no option but to cooperate with China for peace and stability in the region.
There is however a baggage of the past for India and an unresolved border dispute that simmers between India and China which could cloud cooperation.
Indeed, as the Chinese Navy is moving into uncharted waters, how Beijing and New Delhi handle the inevitable conflicting interests will have far-reaching impact on not only China’s continuous “peaceful development and harmonious rise” but also peace and stability of the world, especially in the South-Asia- Pacific region.
By the time as we speak China's GDP is the 2nd largest in the world. Chinese economy is heavily dependent on trade and therefore the country must increase its military might to protect the safety of trade path. In the next 10 years China will enter another wave of production of war ships as the Jane's article predicted. Below is my personal counts:
1) Air craft carriers: 2 conventional by 2012 and 2 nuclear later
2) Destroyers: 2 more 052 class by 2011 and 6-8 new class later
3) Frigates: 10-12 054A+
4) Conventional subs: 10+ 039B Yuan-AIP
5) SSGN 09V: 2 under construction and 4-6 later
6) SSBM 09IVA: 4-6
7) Other supporting ships
China fought with UN force 60 years ago. If neccessary China will fight with US or any ganged forces for her survival.
Two carriers by 2012... dream on. They will be lucky to have Varyag refitted for a training deck by 2012 much less having an operational carrier. 2 more 052s by next year? They haven't delievered one since 2007. This lack of activity denotes they are finished with the class. They can make 054As as fast as Russia exports the radars. As far as 039s, they have only launched 2 in the last 6 years, not much is coming of it. There is no SSGN. The SSBNs are still waiting on missiles.
We have to fight with US. Just for better life. USA is our example.We learn much frm USA.
but fight with Japan for honor. I don't hate japanese. somethime hate is not the reason to fight.
We have to do. This is our mission for our every generation. But the top mission is developing china adn making it more freedom , more better.
We trust the Lincoln saying " For People , By People , Of People". Just we need the time . we can find a way to realize that under stable.
We need protect our achievement.
Peace and Pvelopment !!