China Set for Naval Hegemony

Discussion in 'International Politics' started by nandu, May 13, 2010.

  1. nandu

    nandu Senior Member Senior Member

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    China Set for Naval Hegemony

    The Chinese navy has been throwing its weight around in East Asia. A US Navy commander asks how much longer the US can do anything about it.

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    On the night of March 26 the Cheonan, a South Korean Navy corvette patrolling in the Yellow Sea, mysteriously erupted in a cataclysmic explosion and sank to the bottom. The ship was just off Baengnyeong Island, near the Northern Limit Line, which is the armistice separation line between North and South Korea. Of the 104 crew on board, only 58 survived. Salvage operations confirm the ship was struck by a North Korean heavy torpedo armed with a 200 kg warhead.

    Exchange the cast of characters from North and South Korea to China and the United States, and the sneak attack on the Cheonan is exactly the sort of nightmare scenario envisioned in an analysis I wrote for the Foreign Policy Research Institute’s Orbis—’How the US Lost the Naval War of 2015‘.

    The article foretells a devastating Chinese surprise attack using a newly-developed anti-ship ballistic missile against the Yokosuka-based nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS George Washington. The parallels between the 2015 thought experiment in Orbis and the Cheonan disaster are eerie. In the hypothetical scenario, China shoots an advanced DF-21 ASBM into the American aircraft carrier, and then denies it, leaving the United States in the same quandary that Seoul now finds itself. Any defensive response risks a major war while bolstering North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il.

    The prospects for a Chinese surprise attack are, of course, debatable. The greater issue, however, is how China has invested decades in a patient and aggressive campaign to slowly push other countries out of the East China Sea and South China Sea. The US Navy is the main target, as it’s the largest obstacle to Beijing’s strategy. The result: a well-coordinated campaign of legal, political and military pressure—and sometimes aggression—to gradually bring the littoral seas under Chinese domination.

    Beginning in 2000, for example, China initiated increasingly provocative warship and aircraft maneuvers, and even started using armed oceanographic ships and fisheries enforcement vessels to try to disrupt routine US military survey missions in the East China Sea. In 2001, a Chinese fighter jet aggressively intercepted a US Navy propeller-driven EP-3 surveillance aircraft 75 miles from Hainan Island. The fighter jet collided with the US aircraft, resulting in the loss of the jet and pilot. The heavily damaged EP-3 made an emergency landing on the island. In 2003, a similarly aggressive intercept occurred.

    In another of the many instances of harassment of US naval and air forces, on March 7 of 2009, Chinese maritime forces stalked the USNS Impeccable ocean surveillance ship. Working in tandem with an intelligence ship, an oceanographic ship and a fisheries enforcement vessel, two commercial cargo ships crossed the bow of Impeccable, stopping directly in front of the ship. President Obama dispatched the USS Chung-Hoon to provide armed escort for the surveillance ship. In response, China sent its largest and most modern ocean surveillance patrol ship, the Yuzheng 311, into the South China Sea to assert China’s ‘rights and interests.’

    These three cases are only the tip of the iceberg. In the summer of 2001, and again in 2002, Chinese ships and aircraft harassed and threatened the USNS Bowditch and the USNS Sumner, which were operating in the East China Sea.[1] Soon after the Impeccable incident, the USNS Victorious was harassed. In each of these cases, China failed to comply with its obligations under international law to show due regard for the rights of vessels and aircraft of other nations operating in the East and South China Seas.

    At the same time, China has been equally obstinate in pressing specious ‘territorial’ claims to virtually the entire South China Sea. In 1953, China issued an infamous map with a U-shaped, ‘nine-dotted line’ that laid claim to 80 percent of the South China Sea. Today, the line is derisively called ‘the cow tongue.’ In 1974, China seized the Paracel Islands from Vietnam. In 1988, China again attacked Vietnamese forces on Johnson Reef and occupied six features in the Spratly Islands, and in 1994 Beijing captured Mischief Reef from the Philippines.

    Ironically, most of the rocks and reefs of the Spratly and Paracel chains are merely navigational hazards and not ‘islands.’ They also lie far from China and within the 200-mile economic zones of neighboring Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei. But in March, the New York Times reported that Chinese officials had told Deputy Secretary of State James B. Steinberg that China would not tolerate ‘foreign interference’ in its ‘territory’ in the South China Sea. For the first time, Beijing has elevated the ‘the cow tongue’ to a vital national interest.

    Ironically, it was Steinberg, a longtime Clinton associate, who notably coined the phrase ‘strategic reassurance’ to describe the idea that the United States should reassure China that its rise to prominence is welcome, while China should in turn reassure its neighbors that its rise is peaceful. But by claiming the South China Sea as its ‘territory,’ China is reaching far beyond its shores.

    Last year, China seized 33 Vietnamese fishing boats and 433 crew members near the Paracel Islands. On April 10 of this year, farther north, a 10-ship Chinese flotilla, which included two submarines, transited between Okinawa Island and Miyakojima, another Okinawa Prefecture island. This occurred only two days after a Chinese helicopter flew within 90 feet of a MSDF destroyer monitoring the battle group, raising the danger that China was willing to endanger the safety of one of its aircraft to make a point. Then, on April 13 a Chinese Navy destroyer performed the menacing act of aiming its rapid-fire guns at a Japanese MSDF P-3C plane, demonstrating its ability to shoot down the aircraft, which was on a regular patrol mission in international airspace.

    These maritime disputes are cast against the backdrop of decades of Chinese naval build-up, Beijing’s maritime bullying, and the country’s intransigent and tireless peddling of patently illegal maritime claims. China’s grand effort to convert large swaths of the oceans into an area under Chinese suzerainty is a dangerous game that risks naval war. The cornerstone of American power and security is global access, and particularly maritime mobility. This isn’t new. The first war fought by an independent United States was over the issue of freedom of the seas—the 1798-1800 Quasi-War with France. The second US war was the First Barbary War of 1804; the third US conflict was the War of 1812, and the fourth war involving the United States was the Second Barbary War. For each of these conflicts, the key US issue was ensuring freedom of the seas. Likewise, the issue of freedom of the seas helped precipitate US involvement in two world wars and, in the Gulf of Tonkin, the Vietnam War. Are you starting to see a pattern here?

    But China has made uncanny progress on its dogged trek to transition from an obsolete 1950s-style coastal defense force to a balanced blue water fleet. Several factors are in play as China unveils a stable of advanced and emerging systems. First, China is working feverishly on a new weapon that will alter the strategic calculus—the 1,500-mile range DF-21 ASBM, specifically designed to decapitate US carrier strike groups. The DF-21 will be armed with a maneuverable reentry vehicle (MARV) that, in combination with a space-based maritime surveillance and targeting system, can be used to strike moving warships at sea. This is unlike any threat ever faced by the US Navy, and the prospect of intercepting a maneuvering ballistic missile reentry vehicle is daunting.

    Second, after suffering an embarrassing indignity in 1996 when President Bill Clinton ordered the Nimitz and Independence carrier battle groups into the Taiwan Strait, China has embarked on a program to build a powerful surface fleet, which will include aircraft carriers. As a maritime nation with worldwide responsibilities, the United States devotes only 26 percent of its defense budget to the Navy and Marine Corps. The Chinese Navy, on the other hand, attracts more than 33 percent of the nation’s military spending.

    While the United States has the forward-deployed USS George Washington on a short tether, oftentimes Washington has no other carrier in theater, meaning that even two or three Chinese carriers operating in the area likely will exceed the number of US flattops. The Chinese fleet is about 260 vessels, including 75 major warships and more than 60 submarines, and the entire force is complemented by hundreds of fast cruise-missiles shooting offshore patrol vessels and land-based aircraft.

    By comparison, the US Navy battle force, run ragged with global responsibilities, has shrunk by 20 percent since 2001. The US fleet will be hard-pressed to maintain a force of 11 carriers, 31 amphibious warfare ships, 88 major surface combatants and 48 submarines, all spread thinly throughout the world. The United States believes it can be ‘virtually present’ everywhere, and then surge actual forces in the event of a crisis. But ‘virtual presence’ is actual absence, and the US strategy is tacit recognition that the Navy that had approached 600 ships in the 1980s is incapable of maintaining even half that number.

    In February, the Center for Naval Analysis issued a report suggesting that none of this is hyperbole: the US Navy is at the tipping point, about to abandon its position of maritime superiority. So accustomed to being militarily superior, the United States is under the delusion that it could maintain sea control in Asia.

    Third, China has mastered quiet air-independent propulsion (AIP) power plants for its new Type 041 Yuan-class boats. AIP extends underwater endurance from a few days to one month, and enables submarines to sprint underwater—greatly increasing their attack radius. Reportedly quieter than the US fast attack Los Angeles-class boats, the elusive AIP diesel electrics are equipped with wake-honing torpedoes and anti-ship cruise missiles. In one incident in October 2006, an ultra-quiet Song–class AIP submarine surfaced inside the protective screen of the aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk.

    Fourth, China’s geographic position, with short and secure internal lines of communication, is a force multiplier. All of Beijing’s warships and land-based aircraft and submarines already are present in theater. Chinese ground command and control is connected by spoof-proof hard-wire landlines.

    Fifth, China is riding a wave of national overconfidence at the same time many regard the United States as preoccupied with counter-insurgency in central Asia, strategically listless and brooding. Brimming with uncontained satisfaction—even joy—at its relentless ascent, China is overflowing with ethnic and cultural pride and itching to ‘teach lessons’ and settle old scores. These emotions fuel a ballooning sense of past wrongs to be compensated and future entitlements to be seized. Any maritime conflict with the United States (or Japan) will push China teetering over the edge of a war fever not seen since the Guns of August.

    These developments don’t leave a lot of room for optimism. Caught up in the fanfare of the country’s meteoric rise, China behaves like the gangly teenager who, upon suddenly experiencing a growth spurt, clumsily begins to throw around his weight. Moreover, as the United States buckles under the strain of enormous budget deficits, the prospect is remote that the US Navy alone will recalibrate the balance of sea power.

    This suggests two outcomes. The first is that China will indeed achieve its goal of becoming the Asian hegemonic power, dominant not only on land, but in the Western Pacific. The second possibility is that other nations—foremost among them Japan and India—but also including virtually every other nation in the region from Russia to Vietnam, will begin to think more overtly about collective measures and how they can balance the growing power of Beijing.

    http://the-diplomat.com/2010/05/06/c...minate-seas/4/
     
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  3. nandu

    nandu Senior Member Senior Member

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    U.S under no threat of losing naval supremacy

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    13 May 2010 : China's growing naval power and its aggressiveness in the South China sea are worrying the U.S. as much as it is worrying India, Japan, Vietnam and other countries in the region. (Above a rarely seen picture of a Chinese SSBN from Feng).

    At US$82.69 billion, America's April budget deficit is double the estimates and understandable why a worried Defence Secretary, Robert Gates said "...we have to ask whether the nation can really afford a Navy that relies on $3 to $6 billion destroyers, $7 billion submarines, and $11 billion carriers”.

    This has lead to many sites publishing doomsday scenarios where the Chinese navy attacks U.S. carriers. The best one is from the Diplomat "China set for Naval Hegemony" which compares the recent sinking of a South Korean warship by a North Korean torpedo. Since the North Koreans have denied involvement, the South Koreans are at a loss on what to do with a increasing nuclear-capable, erratic neighbour. The article also sets out the various times in the past few years that China has challenged the U.S. in the South China sea.

    The loser is definitely (according to John Guardiano) the U.S.'s "aggressive foreign policy backed by the exercise of U.S. military power". So while it may mean that the U.S. may not be able to intervene in future Asian regional conflicts, it is not the end of the world. Because:-

    * U.S. foreign policy isn't the best. In case of Pakistan, it continues to have negative consequences on the stability of the region
    * U.S. still has the largest, most powerful navy in the world and its ability to inflict damage anywhere in the world is under no doubt. The U.S. Navy is also the 4th largest air force in the world.
    * U.S. defence spend is still as big as the rest of the world combined. It also has a long history of high R&D investments which give it force-multiplier weaponry. Take a single company, General Atomics and just in the last month the rapid progress in weapons development can be seen in two products - its aircraft carrier based Predator C unmanned airbourne surveillance and attack craft (see Air Attack) and stuff out of science fiction, a 200 mile electromagnetic rail cannon for the navy.
    * While China remains a threat, U.S. navy deputy secretary Bob Work, quoted in DoD Buzz.com, with an apparent reference to China, said that it would bankrupt itself if it got in to an arms race with the U.S. And while it may be hard to see in the current economic crisis, it would be true in the long run. Unlike the U.S., China's only friends are either rogue nations or bought over with money.
    * After fighting two world wars with Germany, today they have a 0% probability of going to war. The U.S. has many friends in the Asian region like Singapore, Japan, Thailand, Korea, India etc with whom it can continue to strengthen relations through a common ideology on many fronts and they would together mitigate any real or perceived loss in U.S. naval supremacy while achieving similar objectives.

    It should be remembered that neither the U.S., nor any other country in history, have held the prized role as the planet's unchallenged sole superpower for long. Less than two decades for the U.S. since the fall of the USSR. A foreign policy that accommodates others, may turn out to be, in its own best interests in the long run.

    http://www.8ak.in/
     
  4. nandu

    nandu Senior Member Senior Member

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    China's navy changing the game

    For much of the Cold War, China's navy was little more than an elaborate coast guard. It was barely a blip on the maritime horizons of Japan and Southeast Asia. Today the Chinese armed forces are in the midst of an intense and sustained modernization program, and the navy has emerged as a key service for protecting and advancing national interests. It gets more than one-third of the declared military budget.

    China's navy, like those of other leading nations, aims to protect vital trade routes, project power and influence, and deter potential adversaries. What makes the Chinese navy significantly different is its role to secure control for China over vast sea zones and far-flung islands in Southeast Asia and Northeast Asia that are contested by several Southeast Asian countries and Japan.

    China says that, like Taiwan, these areas in the South China Sea and the East China Sea are a part of its territory and were taken away when China was weak. Control of these places is contested not just for reasons of national pride, but also because they contain valuable undersea oil and gas, fisheries and some of the world's busiest and most important shipping routes that are used extensively for trade and naval operations by many countries, including the United States.

    The Chinese navy reportedly plans to have a refurbished former Soviet aircraft carrier in operation by 2012 for training and developing basic skills; a made-in-China carrier is to take to the seas sometime after 2015. This advance in power projection is expected to have predominantly regional implications.

    The U.S. Office of Naval Intelligence completed a study last year of the People's Liberation Army Navy, the official name of the Chinese navy. It noted that although aircraft carriers were viewed in the U.S. as instruments of global force projection, Chinese officials had stated that carriers were necessary for protecting China's maritime territorial integrity.

    Shortly after a series of incidents at sea off China's coast between Chinese military and civilian vessels and two different U.S. Navy surveillance ships just over a year ago, the official Xinhua News Agency said that China would not "build an offensive navy cruising the globe." Instead, the Chinese navy would concentrate on its offshore area.

    "In order to defend China's territory and sovereignty, and secure its maritime rights and interests, the navy decided to set its defense range as the Yellow Sea, the East China Sea and the South China Sea," Xinhua reported. "This range covered the maritime territory that should be governed by China, according to the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea, as well as the islands in the South China Sea, which have been its territory since ancient times."

    With a total of around 260 naval vessels, not far short of the 286 ships in the U.S. Navy, China now has 75 destroyers, frigates, amphibious transports and submarines. This makes it the largest force of major warships in Asia, according to the Pentagon's latest report to Congress on Chinese military power.

    An increasing number of these ships are technologically advanced and well-armed. However, the Chinese navy still faces many challenges and it is far from matching the U.S. Navy in terms of capability. Both the Japanese and Indian navies can also do some things better at sea than China.

    To discourage the U.S. or any other foreign navy from intervening in Beijing's declared sphere of influence around Taiwan and in the South and East China Seas in a crisis, Chinese military strategists have developed a set of weapons and tactics to deny hostile forces access. Among the weapons are submarines that are increasingly difficult to detect and an array of long-range anti-ship missiles that are increasingly difficult to defend against.

    The latter include what would be the world's first operational ballistic missile and maneuverable warhead guided by satellite and land-based over-the-horizon radar to strike aircraft carriers at up to 12 times the speed of sound far out at sea. U.S. military officials and analysts regard it as a serious threat to American naval operations in the Western Pacific.

    U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates on May 3 warned that "the virtual monopoly the U.S. has enjoyed with precision guided weapons is eroding — especially with long-range, accurate anti-ship cruise and ballistic missiles that can potentially strike from over the horizon."

    China's anti-ship ballistic missile, with a range of 1,500 km, would be fired from mobile launchers on land. Adm. Robert Willard, the commander of U.S. forces in the Pacific, told Congress in March that China was "developing and testing" the missile. He added that it was "designed specifically to target aircraft carriers." Gates said that such a weapon could potentially put at risk a modern nuclear-powered U.S. carrier with a full complement of the latest aircraft — an asset worth as much as $20 billion. He added that a combination of lethal missiles and stealthy submarines "could end the operational sanctuary our navy has enjoyed in the Western Pacific for the better part of six decades."

    It is not the first time that Gates has spoken about this threat. Last September, he said that China's "investments in anti-ship weaponry and ballistic missiles could threaten America's primary way to project power and help allies in the Pacific — particularly our forward bases and carrier strike groups."

    The U.S. Naval Institute cautioned a year ago that "the mere perception that China might have an anti-ship ballistic missile capability could be game-changer, with profound consequences for deterrence, military operations and the balance of power in the Western Pacific."

    For Southeast Asian states — particularly those like Vietnam, the Philippines and Malaysia that actively contest China's claims in the South China Sea — such game-changing developments will only reinforce their concerns about rise of the Chinese navy and its regional role.

    Japan must be equally concerned, even as it seeks better relations with China. The balance of power in the Asia-Pacific region appears to be shifting in ways that make it much less stable — and a lot less comfortable for peripheral countries like Japan and Australia that are both allies of the U.S. and have strong interests in continuing growth and security in the region.

    http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/eo20100513mr.html
     
  5. nandu

    nandu Senior Member Senior Member

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    Chinese navy's new strategy in action

    Recent Chinese naval activity in the South China Sea

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    The news from Tokyo on 10 April 2010 that the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force had monitored ten Chinese warships passing 140km south of Okinawa through the Miyako Strait marked a new stage in China’s naval development. The deployment was of unprecedented size and scope for the Chinese navy, and was the second such operation mounted by China in rapid succession: in March, a smaller flotilla had been deployed on exercises. The two sets of exercises, along with Chinese counter-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden, demonstrate the flexibility of China’s naval forces and their greater prominence in Beijing’s strategic calculations.

    The flotilla from the People’s Liberation Army Navy contained some of its most advanced warships, including two Kilo-class diesel-powered attack submarines and at least two Russian-built Sovremenny-class destroyers. The March and April missions were the first of any size beyond the ‘First Island Chain’ – the term used by China for the line formed by the Aleutians, the Kuriles, Japan’s archipelago, the Ryukyus, Taiwan, the Philippines and Borneo – and indicated that deployments beyond the chain were now official policy, having been discussed by naval officers for some years beforehand.

    South China Sea tensions

    The timing of the exercises appears to be directly linked to rising tensions in China’s long-running sovereignty disputes over islands in the South China Sea. The current Chinese boundaries for the region first appeared on a survey conducted by the Nationalist Chinese government in 1935, and were retained by the Communist government after 1949. They define as Chinese several island groups including the Paracels (Xisha), the Spratlys (Nansha), the Pratas (Dongsha), Macclesfield Bank (Zhongsha) and Scarborough Shoal (Huangyan Dao). For decades, China has disputed some or all of these islands with Vietnam, Taiwan, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei. Mineral, natural-gas and oil deposits are claimed to be at stake, although the absence of independent surveys leaves the extent of these open to question. But this uncertainty has not deterred claimant nations from building military installations on many of the reefs. Currently China has installations on Cuarteron, Fiery Cross, Hughes, Johnson, Mischief, Gaven and Subi reefs. These range from small three-storey buildings with helipads, to facilities capable of acting as a refuelling dock.

    The fiercest arguments, which have intensified over the past year, have been between China and Vietnam, which officially claimed the Spratly Islands as a Vietnamese province in 1973. Vietnam occupies 29 of the islands and reefs in the area, while China is in possession of about nine. As the dispute is as much over the surrounding water as the islands, commercial activities such as fishing have evolved in recent years into a strategic issue. Vietnamese and Chinese fishing vessels routinely congregate in the same areas.

    In March, China responded to pleas from Chinese fishing vessels off the Spratly Islands that they had been subjected to harassment by the Vietnamese coastguard service. The Yuzheng 311, China’s largest fishery patrol vessel displacing 4,600 tonnes, was dispatched to the South China Sea from Sanya, Hainan Island, on 18 March, accompanied by the 202 patrol vessel. A Chinese news report specifically highlighted the presence of heavy machine guns on board the 311.

    On 1 April Vietnamese President Nguyen Minh Triet, escorted by two destroyers, visited the disputed Bach Long Vi (known as Bai Long Wei to China) island, which is located between Haiphong in Vietnam and China’s Hainan Island. Triet announced from the island that Vietnam would ‘not let anyone infringe on our territory, our sea, and islands’. Hanoi formally lodged a protest with Beijing over the seizure of nine fishermen by the Chinese fisheries department on 22 March near the Paracels.

    First operation

    Meanwhile, China had embarked on the first of what were described in official media as ‘long-range naval exercises’. A flotilla of six ships from the North Sea Fleet had left their base in Qingdao and sailed through the Miyako Strait near Okinawa in three pairs on 18 March, possibly in an attempt to avoid attention. The Japanese destroyer Amagiri reported seeing a Luzhou-class destroyer and a Jiangwei II frigate. Another destroyer, the Asayuki, detected both a Jiangwei II and a Jianghu III frigate. A Chinese tanker and a salvage vessel followed. Prior to the ships passing, a single Chinese KJ-200 airborne warning-and-control system aircraft was tracked by Japanese F-15s as it flew over the strait on 12 March.

    A report in the PLA Daily in mid-April described this as a ‘long-distance training exercise’. The official CCTV-7 Military News programme also offered clues as to the nature of the deployment: the deputy commander of the North Sea Fleet stated that ‘China needed to protect its maritime territorial integrity through long-distance naval projection’. The report also showed J-8 fighters providing long-range air cover, and anti-submarine warfare exercises (ASW) being carried out. The flotilla made its presence felt as it travelled through the Miyako Strait and later the Bashi Channel between the Philippines and Taiwan. The ships conducted numerous live-fire exercises, as well as confrontation drills with elements of the South Sea Fleet. The PLA report said the fleet visited Fiery Cross Reef in the Spratly Islands, as well as conducting further exercises near the Malacca Strait between Malaysia and Indonesia. The deployment and exercises were a clear message of the willingness of the PLA Navy to assert Chinese power in the region. The flotilla returned to base in early April.

    Second operation

    The Japanese were surprised once more when a second task group – consisting of as many as ten ships from the East Sea Fleet, including destroyers, frigates and several auxiliary vessels – sailed through the Miyako Strait on 10 April. Two Kilo-class submarines accompanied the flotilla, surfacing as they passed through the strait in accordance with international law. This time Tokyo decided to go public with the news. The Japanese destroyer Suzunami and surveillance aircraft were dispatched to take pictures of the Chinese flotilla which, rather than passing in pairs, sailed in one large group past Okinawa. The Suzunami was buzzed by a Chinese Ka-28 ASW helicopter, which came within 90 metres of the Japanese warship. By late April the flotilla appeared to have halted east of Taiwan, and was conducting ASW exercises. The halt of its journey southwards seemed to be directly linked to a change in the plight of the Chinese fishing vessels in the Spratly Islands.

    When the 311 and 202 Chinese fishery patrol vessels arrived in the Spratly Islands, they found that Chinese fishing boats were surrounded by large numbers of Vietnamese boats. The situation deteriorated after the first naval flotilla returned home as more and more Vietnamese vessels congregated around the Chinese ships. An embedded press reporter on the 311 claimed that on 8 April some 20 boats were encircling the vessel, and by 10 April the number had climbed to 60. They were only 200 metres from the 311, and were photographing the Chinese ships.


    The Vietnamese perhaps did not expect further Chinese naval action, since the first flotilla had reached the limits of its endurance after 19 days of sailing over 6,000 nautical miles. However, the report from Japan that the second group of ships had passed through the Miyako Strait had a startling effect on the Vietnamese vessels. The reporter on the 311 described the Chinese sailors’ amazement as every single Vietnamese vessel vanished from the area on 12 April.

    It appears that news of the second Chinese flotilla surprised the Vietnamese. Moreover, the decision to sail through the Miyako Strait without any of the caution displayed previously may have been intended to produce as much publicity as possible in order to send a warning to the Vietnamese boats surrounding the stranded 311. Once the Vietnamese vessels withdrew, the Chinese group halted its move south and began conducting ad hoc exercises.

    Evolving naval policy

    The operations were a testament to the modernisation of the PLA Navy over the past decade. They would not have been possible if it were not for the continued focus on long-range projection exercises that has dominated its training for the past decade. The Chinese decision in December 2008 to join the international anti-piracy operation in the Gulf of Aden has led to Chinese naval ships using some of the world’s main maritime routes more often. For some Southeast Asian countries, the recent operations represent an attempt by China to set a precedent for the establishment of a long-term naval presence in the region. The navy’s strategy of continued expansion, including an aircraft carrier – refurbishment of the former Ukrainian carrier Varyag is under way – and new submarines, has also been a concern for China’s neighbours. In 2009, Vietnam responded by ordering six Russian Kilo-class attack submarines.

    It is clear that the PLA Navy is beginning to take on a much more prominent role in Chinese foreign policy. At its 60th Anniversary Review in 2009, President Hu Jintao said that it had reached a new ‘historical starting point’. Five years earlier, Hu had set out the PLA’s ‘historical mission’ for the future: to consolidate the ruling status of the Communist Party; to help ensure China’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and domestic security; to safeguard China’s expanding national interests; and to help maintain world peace. Clear indications that a new policy had been officially adopted came when naval officers made ‘proposals’ to the National People’s Congress in 2009 and 2010.


    Reach and flexibility


    Underlining the results of the change of naval strategy, no less than 19 warships, including three returning from anti-piracy operations off Somalia, passed through the disputed islands in the South China Sea in March and April. Japanese Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa described this activity as an ‘unprecedented situation’.

    Most significant has been the PLA Navy’s demonstration of its ability to organise and conduct far-ranging operations with a wide array of platforms. This indicates an increase in command-and-control abilities, as well as improved coordination between the navy’s different fleets. Although the East Sea Fleet was favoured by former president Jiang Zemin as a priority force in dealing with the Taiwan issue (such as the 1996 Taiwan Strait Crisis), neither it nor the North Sea Fleet have previously been involved in deployments in the South China Sea. During Hu’s presidency, the South Sea Fleet has been radically modernised and has usually been the main force used by China to assert its maritime sovereignty.

    This new flexibility signals a considerable change in the navy’s strategic thinking. The interoperability and mutual support between the three fleets marks a shift towards a consolidated central command and away from the out-of-date system of having three independently operating fleets. It shows that the navy is willing and able to break through the First Island Chain and into the Pacific – a substantial change from previous doctrine. The new focus is now on ‘long-range maritime training’ in order to ‘protect national maritime sovereignty’. Senior PLA Navy officers have also called for the ‘formation and [maintenance] of lasting long-range combat capabilities’.

    Significant progress has been made towards achieving China’s objective of building a fully fledged blue-water navy by 2050. Substantial new funding has allowed it to evolve rapidly from a coastal defence force to a navy capable of limited power projection. The completion of the Varyag, due in 2012, will further extend its ability to project power by providing valuable training for a future indigenously designed carrier force.

    For the region, the strategic implications will be complex. Vietnam and other Southeast Asian countries will have to contend with a more assertive China in the Paracel and Spratly Islands. Japan and other countries will have to get used to Chinese flotillas moving more frequently into the Pacific. However, its primary focus will be on preserving territorial integrity rather than on aggressive expansion.

    http://www.iiss.org/publications/st...010/may/chinese-navys-new-strategy-in-action/
     
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  6. nandu

    nandu Senior Member Senior Member

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    China's forces lack strong naval tradition

    Even as China has taken a great leap forward to acquire a modern deep-water navy, a tone of skepticism has crept into U.S. intelligence and scholarly assessments, some asserting that it will be a decade before the Chinese can seriously challenge the U.S. Navy.

    The skeptics are quick to acknowledge, however, that chances of a Chinese miscalculation caused by over-confidence become more possible by the day. Thus they urge the U.S. and China to expand military exchanges and to work out an agreement to prevent an incident at sea from spiraling into a crisis.

    The U.S. and the Soviet Union had such an agreement during the Cold War. They agreed, among other things, not to train guns on each other's ships, not to fly over the other navy's ships and to use international signals to avoid collisions.

    Reflecting a growing awareness of Chinese naval power is an article by Robert Kaplan, of the Center for a New American Security, a Washington think tank, in the latest issue of Foreign Affairs magazine. "In the twenty-first century," Kaplan said, "China will project hard power abroad primarily through its navy."

    Kaplan points to several missions for China's navy, known formally as the People's Liberation Army Navy, or PLAN, as all Chinese military services belong to the PLA. "China's actions abroad," Kaplan said, "are propelled by its need to secure energy, metals, and strategic minerals" to support its surging economy.

    The PLAN has been tasked to push China's frontiers into the sea east and south to encompass the self-governing island of Taiwan, Guam and the Northern Marianas that are U.S. territories, the Philippines, and Indonesia. "The Chinese see all these islands," Kaplan said, "as archipelagic extensions of the Chinese landmass."

    Further, China is investing in submarines, destroyers, aircraft, and missiles designed, Kaplan wrote, "to block the U.S. Navy from entering the East China Sea and other Chinese Coastal Waters." That "anti-access" or "denial" strategy applies to the Taiwan Strait and the South China Sea, which China claims are territorial waters.

    Like other analysts, however, Kaplan acknowledges that China "is still a long way from challenging the United States militarily."

    Much attention has been focused on Chinese warships, aircraft, and weapons but the PLAN's greatest weakness is the lack of naval tradition and experience needed to practice good seamanship. American naval officers, chief petty officers and sailors have 400 years of tradition and experience behind them, 200 from the British navy and 200 in the American Navy.

    In contrast, China has been a land power that has produced only one great admiral in its long history, Cheng Ho, who led seven voyages into the Pacific and Indian Oceans in the early 15th century. After he died about 1433, China's emperors lost interest in naval exploration and European explorers, merchant ships, and warships began to sail in Asian waters.

    Today's PLAN was organized in 1950 after the Communist Party, having defeated Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek's Kuomintang, had come to power. The PLAN inherited old equipment and poorly trained sailors from the Kuomintang and, in its early days, was trained by the Soviet navy, itself staffed by artillery officers who had been put to sea.

    American and Japanese naval officers who have observed PLAN ships maneuver at sea have remarked on the poor quality of ship handling, although one American officer said he had seen improvements. Japanese officers were concerned when a Chinese helicopter flew near Japanese warships south of Okinawa recently, not because it was a threat but because the Chinese pilot wasn't well trained.

    Informed analysts said China's military leaders recognized the shortcomings of PLAN sailors and are seeking to train them better.

    http://www.honoluluadvertiser.com/a...56/China+s+forces+lack+strong+naval+tradition
     
  7. tarunraju

    tarunraju Moderator Moderator

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    Naval hegemony? Against US Navy's Atlantic and Pacific fleets? I'd like what the author is smoking.
     
  8. LETHALFORCE

    LETHALFORCE Moderator Moderator

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    Any threat of Chinese naval hegemony will be easily countered by USA,by militarizing Japan.
     
  9. nimo_cn

    nimo_cn Senior Member Senior Member

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    What are these authors talking about? Overstating the threat of China, again?
    At least do it in a plausible way.

    China doesn't even own one aircraft carrier, how could she seek the naval hegemony?
     
  10. nandu

    nandu Senior Member Senior Member

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    Boost Stealth, Long Range Strike; CSBA Puts Eye On China

    [​IMG]

    The Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments new report “AirSea Battle: A Point of Departure Operational Concept” says that China’s weapon mix is designed to deny U.S. air and maritime freedom of maneuver and access in the western Pacific (WestPac) by targeting bases and ships with precision guided missiles.

    China’s buildup of increasingly capable anti-access/area-denial “battle networks” will, over time, make the current “American way of war” prohibitively costly. This shift in the military balance is perhaps best exemplified by China’s widely reported development of “carrier killing” anti-ship ballistic missiles, a weapon that potentially threatens the very symbol of American military might and global presence.

    CSBA president Andrew Krepinevich emphasized that CSBA’ AirSea Battle concept is not about fighting a war with China, or “rolling back” China’s influence in the Western Pacific. Instead, it should be seen as an “offsetting strategy” that reaffirms a U.S. commitment to maintaining presence, coalitions and influence in that strategically vital area.

    CSBA’s AirSea Battle concept envisions a two-stage campaign. The first phase would be to survive what would likely be Chinese pre-emptive strikes on U.S. and allied bases across the Western Pacific, particularly airfields. It envisions more than just trusting in missile defenses and base hardening. Prompt U.S. counterattacks would first go after the PLA’s reconnaissance strike complex, the U.S. would try to deny China the ability to accurately target fixed installations and ships and conduct battle damage assessment.

    This “blinding campaign” is at the core of the AirSea Battle concept, said CSBA’s Jim Thomas; the PLA’s surveillance and targeting systems are the “Achilles heel” of its anti-access networks. In any WestPac confrontation, one of the PLA’s main advantages is its very large and growing arsenal of precision guided missiles; those missile magazines could be rendered useless if they can’t be guided.

    If China loses its over the horizon situational awareness, U.S. naval assets regain their freedom of maneuver and ability to close in on the Chinese mainland. Short ranged tactical aircraft could also be moved closer if allied bases weren’t being bombarded with PLA ballistic missiles. The blinding campaign would include cyber attacks, PLA space assets would be targeted, electronic warfare aircraft would spoof PLA radars and sensors and seaborne pickets would be targeted.

    The blinding campaign would be followed by strikes against the PLA’s fixed and mobile missile launchers using land and sea based manned and unmanned stealthy penetrators. Using stand-off and EW, the U.S. would try and open corridors in PLA air-defenses. Simultaneously, PLA Navy ships and subs would be targeted to prevent them from getting out into the open ocean. If the first phase of the campaign aims to prevent China from achieving a “knock-out blow,” the second phase would aim to win what would possibly be a prolonged conflict.

    In the second phase of the campaign, CSBA envisions the U.S. seizing the initiative by targeting PLA assets on the mainland and seas, establishing a blockade of Chinese sea lines of communication, surging supplies and warfighting material into WestPac and ramping up industrial production of precision guided weapons. The real value of the ASB concept, Thomas said, is not to develop a new war plan, but rather to develop a conceptual “lens” through which to view future investment decisions. Peering through that lens, CSBA recommends some pretty hefty shifts in investment to execute an effective ASB campaign.

    Much of what CSBA recommends program wise emphasizes stealth, long-range and prompt strike, redundancy and Air Force and Navy interoperability.

    There is a very extensive list of programmatic and force structure changes in the report, including:

    • To mitigate the ballistic missile threat to Guam and other WestPac bases the Air Force should harden its bases on Guam and refurbish bases on Tinian, Saipan and Palua to allow aircraft dispersal and force China to play a shell game with American aircraft; the Air Force-Navy should jointly assess tactical air-based ballistic missile defenses and laser weapons; and BMD exercises should be carried out with Japan.

    • The Air Force and Navy should invest in a long range strike capability against time sensitive targets in a cost imposing strategy to force the PLA to beef up its own defenses; and the Navy should consider investing in conventionally armed, relatively short range sea-based ballistic missiles, similar to Tomahawk, that could be spread across the fleet’s VLS tubes.

    • The Air Force and Navy should develop and field long-range next generation stealthy air platforms, both manned and unmanned, and payloads for these platforms; the Navy version capable of operating off of carriers.

    • The Air Force and Navy should jointly develop a long-range precision strike family of systems that include: ISR, EW and strike. The Air Force should develop a stealthy multi-mission, long-range persistent bomber as part of this strike family. The Navy should expedite developing and fielding a carrier-based drone.

    • The Air Force and Navy should develop joint command and control mechanisms to enable Air Force aircraft to target enemy ships using Navy surveillance and targeting systems. • The Air Force and Navy should jointly develop a long-range anti-ship missile.

    • The Air Force should equip some of its B-2 stealth bombers with an offensive mine laying capability to mine Chinese harbors.

    • The Air Force and Navy should significantly increase investment in joint EW platforms both manned and unmanned.

    • The Air Force and Navy should increase research and development in laser weapons for land and sea based point defense against missiles.

    http://idrw.org/?p=1750#more-1750
     
  11. hit&run

    hit&run Elite Member Elite Member

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    Yea you are right but china do not have means to confront anyone directly but has learnt to use proxies (read North Korea and Pakistan) for the time being.
     

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