The Chinese Navy Faces a Critical Watershed as the East Asian Strategic Balance Chang

Discussion in 'China' started by youngindian, Jun 9, 2010.

  1. youngindian

    youngindian Senior Member Senior Member

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    Written by Gregory R. Copley
    Wednesday, 09 June 2010 14:52

    New strategic brinkmanship by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK); a now-clear determination by the People’s Republic of China (PRC) to “more aggressively assert its territorial claims in regional waters”; the near-collapse of Japanese strategic cohesion during 2010; and the increasing signs of US political caution in North-East Asia, all point to a period of strategic concern for the Republic of China, particularly in its maritime responsibilities.

    What is of particular concern is that the casus belli — the legitimate cause and act of war — thrown down by the DPRK with the March 26, 2010, sinking of the South Korean Po Hang-class corvette, ROKS Cheonan, highlighted the lack of readiness of the ROK, the US, and Japan to be able to handle any major regional crisis. This in turn highlights the extreme vulnerability of the Republic of China, given that the US is showing great reluctance to support the Republic of Korea, and would be even more reluctant to take major steps to support the ROC at this particular time.

    As well, the sinking of the Cheonan highlighted the vulnerability of the ROK Navy to even fairly basic submarine attack, emphasizing the concern which all navies — including the US — must have for improving anti-submarine warfare (ASW).

    As a result, the naval and maritime strategies, doctrine, and options of the Republic of China Navy (ROCN) face a period of great challenge, and the need for serious review. The ROCN has grown to become a highly-professional, technologically-advanced, world-class navy, but it must now function in a new ocean of uncertainty, and in the expectation that it will not have a reliable network of alliances.

    The ROC is at a watershed, a pivotal point, in its history, and this transition point has been a long time in coming. Finally, however, both the ROC and its allies must face serious decisions, and, inevitably, the ROC Navy is very much at the heart of this great challenge.

    The strategic circumstances surrounding the ROC have changed, even in ways which might not, at first glance appear to have been determined solely by the end of the Cold War in 1990-91. Some of the changes in the Republic of China’s overall strategic position were, of course, determined during the Cold War, first by the move in late 1971 by the United Nations to transfer the Chinese membership in the world body, of which Chiang Kai-shek’s ROC was a founder in 1945-46, from the ROC, and grant it to the People’s Republic of China (PRC).

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    Next came the initiative in 1972 of US Pres. Richard Nixon to open ties with the People’s Republic of China (PRC) as a means of breaking Beijing away from Moscow. Following that, US Pres. Jimmy Carter on January 1, 1979, recognized the People’s Republic of China as the sole government of China, and unilaterally moved the US away from its alliance the ROC. Essentially, Carter unilaterally broke a binding alliance structure, a fact which should not go unnoticed by the United States’ many other allies around the world. Carter’s initiative to abandon the ROC was a move of appeasement toward the PRC, but, in many respects, it could have been seen as inevitable, given the strategic mass of the PRC in comparison with that of the ROC.

    Even earlier, as well, the policy of the US John F. Kennedy Administration (1961 to 1963) was to restrain the Republic of China from taking advantage of the disarray at that time on the mainland. The Kennedy Administration policy at the time was to ensure that the ROC did not launch a military assault against the communist forces on the mainland, perhaps starting a major conflict in which the US could become embroiled at a time in which Washington was already engaged in brinkmanship with the USSR.

    Later, although there have been many other factors as well, the deployment by the US William Clinton Administration of the two US Navy carrier battle groups to the Taiwan Straits in 1996, under orders from US Defense Secretary William Perry, was an important watershed in its own right. At that point, the US recognized that it did not have the capacity to repeat the projection of carrier power into the Straits in support of the ROC, even if it wished to, or unless the survival of the US itself was at stake.

    By that time, it was already clear that US carrier battle groups could not be protected from hostile supersonic cruise missile attacks, and even later it became clear that the PRC could also use tactical ballistic missiles with nuclear warheads in specific anti-fleet modes, while the PRC — and, for that matter, Russian — Kilo- and Improved Kilo-class and submarines could comprehensively penetrate the defenses of US carrier battle groups.

    But even with all these caveats, nothing has transformed the strategic situation of the ROC so much as the rising wealth of the PRC in the post-Cold War, post-Mao Zedong era. The economic growth of the PRC in the post-Cold War world has been matched in the past few years by the growing strategic, economic, and political stagnation of the United States. The PRC — with a 2009 GDP of $4.9-trillion — is becoming more strategically mobile, while the US, with a GDP in 2009 of $14.256-trillion, some three times larger, is in strategic consolidation or even, geopolitically, in strategic contraction.

    What are some of the critical aspects of this transformed situation, insofar as they affect the maritime and naval strategies of the Republic of China?

    1. The PRC’s defense budget, including its naval budget, has grown substantially, to the point where in every measure of funding, manpower, and even self-reliance, the People’s Liberation Army-Navy (PLAN) can comprehensively outmaneuver the ROCN. That part of the PRC defense budget which is known — and much of the PRC defense budget is, we know, obscured — was confirmed by the PRC Government in the beginning of March 2010 at 532.1-billion yuan, or US$78-billion, an increase of 7.5 percent over 2009, following the 2009 official growth in defense spending in the PRC was 14.9 percent.

    2. As a result of the new wealth of the PRC — and as a result of the effective removal of US alliance support, other than some military supply, for the ROC — mainland China is now in a position to consider that the factors which once inhibited it from physically invading the ROC territory are now overcome. In other words, there is now nothing which could stop a PRC military adventure against the ROC, as messy and costly as it would be, in the event — albeit a low probability — that Beijing should decide on such an option.

    3. The ROC Armed Forces, and particularly the Navy, suffer enormously from the fact that they cannot exercise regularly with foreign forces. Nothing depletes a force capability more seriously or rapidly than being unable to exercise against the highest level of potential threat, with other sophisticated armed forces.

    4. The ROC Navy has essentially abandoned its potential for self-reliance in warship and major systems construction, and is therefore falling behind world standards in its surface and submarine capabilities in terms of quantity, quality, and self-reliance. This is in large part due to two factors:

    (a) The leadership of the ROCN became afraid to recommend development of major vessels, particularly submarines, in shipyards on Taiwan because of the fear that contracting scandals of the type which plagued the purchase of the LaFayette-type frigates — the Kang Ding-class — from France in the 1990s would destroy careers; and

    (b) The belief, based on a faulty understanding of US reality, that the US would fulfill Pres. George W. Bush’s promise to sell conventional submarines to the ROCN. It was my duty — merely as a private citizen in 2006 — to convey to the ROC Minister of Defense the reality that the US Navy would never obey the US President’s command to find these submarines on the world market and supply them to the ROC. Thus, the ROCN lost its self-reliance because of fears over career security on the one hand, fuelled by wishful thinking that the US would “save” them, on the other.

    5. The ROCN has become gradually isolated from maritime mainstream thinking, and as a result the ability of ROC Armed Forces’ officers to speak foreign languages — particularly English — has declined over the past decades. This, along with budget and diplomatic constraints, makes it virtually impossible for the ROC to participate fully in global intelligence and strategic forums.

    6. The ROC has absented itself from major maritime obligations, such as participation in remote counter-piracy operations and sea-lane security policies, even though the ROC was at one time a world leader in studying and understanding all matters relating to the security of Sea Lines of Communications (SLOCs). Despite this, the ROC is, if anything, more dependent on global sea trade security to ensure the delivery of raw materials to the ROC economy. This is an economy which continues to grow, but without any meaningful security of supply. Moreover, the ROC has also virtually ceased competing on the global resource market.

    7. The PRC has, in 2010, made it clear that will now begin contesting maritime areas which it had not had the resources to contest in the past. This is a direct challenge not only to the ROC’s dominions in the South China Sea, but to other states’ resources and sea lanes as well, including those of Japan, and potentially the Republic of Korea, the Philippines, Vietnam, and so on.

    8. The ROC has not undertaken any meaningful initiatives to rebuild, or build, credible — if discreet — military and intelligence relations with, for example, India, which is itself now increasingly challenged by PRC geopolitical expansion, both maritime and land-based.

    9. The ROC is increasingly being put in the position where it will soon have no other option but to develop a strategic modus vivendi with the PRC. This will — de facto — create a broadened “confederation of China”, in which the ROC will take a position similar to, but perhaps more important than, Hong Kong. But at some point, the US will see that the ROC has nowhere to go except into an accommodation with the PRC, and at that time Washington will cut off delivery of advanced weapons systems to the ROC.

    10. The ROC is now, then, in a position at which it must decide whether or not it wishes to pursue sovereignty in an absolute sense. If it wishes this, then it will need to:

    (a) Resume defense industrial self-reliance to a far greater degree than is now the case;

    (b) Resume an aggressive global intelligence and discreet diplomatic capability to build tacit or express alliances or capabilities; and

    (c) Resume a more aggressive posture with regard to the control of access to essential raw materials, and the means to safeguard their delivery to Taiwan. In order to achieve this, the ROC would need immediately to begin rebuilding its strategic analytical capabilities, and the foreign language capabilities of its military officer corps.

    The watershed now being confronted by the ROC in pursuing its sovereignty and maritime interests highlights challenges facing other regional and global trading powers, who need to ensure sea lane security from the Indian Ocean, northward to the Philippines, the Republic of Korea, Japan, and Taiwan, given the prospect that the PRC now clearly intends to prosecute its strategic ambitions with regard to maritime control.

    Questions still exist about the viability of the People’s Liberation Army-Navy (PLAN) to achieve these ambitions in the short-term, but absent any clear challenge from other regional powers, including India, and from the US, the PRC can prosecute its ambitions unopposed.

    With this in mind, the issue of the sovereignty and intentions of the ROC become of significance to the global community, not just to the ROC itself.

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  3. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

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    Naval challenge from China

    Monday, June 14, 2010



    Frank exchanges between Chinese and American defense officials in recent weeks may signal a long-term, rising threat to freedom of navigation in waters off the Chinese coast and to the security of Taiwan. If so, the United States should rethink its plans for downsizing the Navy as well as its East Asia policy.

    Reconsideration of the plans for an ever-shrinking Navy may have already started. Last week, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton, D-Mo., urged the Navy to slow its retirement of older ships and speed shipbuilding.

    At 276 active ships, the Navy is smaller than at any time since before World War I. China, in contrast, has continued to expand its military.

    Also last week, Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said he was "genuinely concerned" about China's growing "expeditionary maritime and air capabilities."

    And China's growing assertiveness drew a rebuke from Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, speaking at a meeting in Singapore.

    The "South China Sea is an area of growing concern," he said. "We ... oppose the use of force and actions that hinder freedom of navigation. We object to any effort to intimidate U.S. corporations or those of any nation engaged in legitimate economic activity."

    The Chinese side has been equally blunt. The Washington Post reports that in a May 24 meeting with U.S. officials in Beijing, Chinese Rear Adm. Guan Youfei accused the United States of viewing his nation as an enemy. He singled out President Obama's recent decision to sell more arms to Taiwan for particular abuse.

    In 1994 and 2001, China tested U.S. resolve to defend Taiwan. This time, so far, it has broken off U.S.-Chinese direct military talks and issued strong objections. But a more determined test may come. China sees the military balance tilting in its favor.

    The Post reports that the president of a think tank run by the Chinese military, Cui Liru, recently warned, "For years, China has opposed arms sales to Taiwan among other things, but we were never strong enough to do anything about it. But our national strength has grown. And it is time that the United States pay attention."

    China also has made claims to ocean resources and islands in the South China and East China seas.

    If the United States wants to defend its interests and avoid an open fight with China, we had better start paying attention to the balance of military power.
     
  4. amoy

    amoy Senior Member Senior Member

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    Yellow Sea, at the threshold of Beijing

    China seriously concerned over U.S. aircraft carrier reports:
    FM spokesman21:18, June 22, 2010

    China was seriously concerned over reports that a U.S. aircraft carrier might join a military exercise with the Republic of Korea (ROK), Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said Tuesday.

    The United States and the ROK reportedly decided to hold a military drill and the U.S. side was considering sending an aircraft carrier to join the exercise in the Yellow Sea off the ROK's western coast, according to media reports.

    China was seriously concerned about relevant reports, and was closely following the development of the matter, Qin said at a regular news briefing.

    "Under current situations, relevant parties should exercise restraint and refrain from doing things that may escalate tensions and harm the interests of the countries in the region," said Qin.

    Source: Xinhua
     
  5. redragon

    redragon Regular Member

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    That is exactly the reason that China should build stronger force, we have the biggest bully in human history treatening us all the time.
     
  6. SHASH2K2

    SHASH2K2 New Member

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    I donot have any option but to laugh when someone from china discuss about bullying. Its Mao philosphy that power flow from barrel of a gun and when someone has bigger gun than start cribbing .USA is there to protect Taiwan and other countries from Chinese aggression.
     
  7. ahmedsid

    ahmedsid Top Gun Senior Member

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    They have to be concerned, because if 3 ACs of the USN make a move, the whole of the Chinese Airforce will be shot right out of the sky!!! The US Wont use its Air Force to fight the chinese airforce like i said, just a few ACs are needed, hence the worry! Be afraid, very afraid!!! :)
     
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  8. Armand2REP

    Armand2REP CHINI EXPERT Veteran Member

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    The biggest critical watershed moment for PLAN is when France and Germany pull the plug on their marine engines. France rules their surface fleet and Germany their submarines. If India throws us some contracts we will tell PLAN to go to hell and let them rust in port.
     
  9. LETHALFORCE

    LETHALFORCE Moderator Moderator

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    There are probably atleast 12 US subs patrolling the Pacific at any given time,and that includes the OHIO class subs; 2 or 3 of these subs alone are enough to wipeout most of the Chinese Eastern seaboard.
     
  10. IBRIS

    IBRIS Senior Member Senior Member

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    Are there any USN Nuclear subs deployed just for assuring Taiwanese against any PLAN aggression. I know US will never disclose it to public. Currently PLAN and PLAAf doesn't stand a chance against few USN Carrier groups.
     
  11. LETHALFORCE

    LETHALFORCE Moderator Moderator

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    There is the whole US Pacific fleet if needed,Bases in Japan. USA also has plans to build longer range missiles and place them in Guam for future use against China. USA also has the global strike weapon now that can be used within 60-90 minutes. USN would not use the carrier groups first, subs would be used first to soften the Chinese before the assault by the carriers.

    http://www.dtic.mil/cgi-bin/GetTRDoc?Location=U2&doc=GetTRDoc.pdf&AD=ADA404522
    GUAM USA: AMERICA'S FORWARD FORTRESS IN ASIA PACIFIC BY U.S. ARMY ...
     
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2010
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  12. SHASH2K2

    SHASH2K2 New Member

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    Donot underestimate USA spy satellites capable of monitoring any submarine movements. USA has very capable satellites which can easily detect any chinese force movement.

    http://www.defenceforum.in/forum/showthread.php/10842-Chinese-subs-irk-US-Think-Tanks
     
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2010
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  13. redragon

    redragon Regular Member

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    Does not matter who is the bully, all china can and will do are to build military forces faster, and hopefully Indian will do the same or even spend more too.
     
  14. LETHALFORCE

    LETHALFORCE Moderator Moderator

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    A decade or more of claiming to have the second biggest military budget, China is still nowhere close too USA ,what makes China think the same spending pattern change this??
     
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2010
  15. amoy

    amoy Senior Member Senior Member

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    I'm not saying China is a pigeon, but China, more self-defensive, doesn't have that ambition to 'get close' to USA, being no match of former USSR who had a global interest and an ideology that once prevailed as an alternative.

    in absolute number C is the 2nd in mil. budget but the base (GDP) is really low


    Many Indian posters seem very excited by USN AC up on Yellow Sea =xy Let's wait and see
     
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2010

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