China’s Navy Grows and the World Watches Warily

Last month, delegations from the naval fleets of 14 nations met at the Chinese port of Qingdao to mark the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLA-Navy). It was a chummy affair of joint exercises and processions at sea, overseen by white-clad officers in full regalia. In a speech there, Chinese president Hu Jintao trumpeted his country’s emergence as a budding maritime power, while assuring foreign observers that China “would never seek hegemony, nor would it turn to arms races with other nations.” Instead, Hu claimed, the retooled and expanding Chinese navy would lead the region into “harmonious seas.”

By Ishaan Thardoor
Time Magazine

File:Destroyer sovremenny.jpg
China’s navy is potent and growing.  Here, a Russian designed Chinese cruiser
But China’s cuddly rhetoric has seduced few. In 2008, Beijing’s annual military budget increased by almost 20% to $60 billion, according to official figures, though the Pentagon estimates that number could actually be closer to $150 billion. Its most recent report on the PLA warned grimly of China’s ability to “develop and field disruptive military technologies” — tactics which the Pentagon thinks will change “regional military balances and… have implications beyond the Asia-Pacific.” China’s strategic interests now rim most of the world’s continents and it remains embroiled in lingering territorial disputes with its neighbors. Though publicly muted, there is growing concern in capitals across the rest of Asia over Beijing’s burgeoning pre-eminence. “There’s no escaping the fact that, in the past ten years, China’s negotiating power has increased while others have weakened,” says C. Raja Mohan, a leading Indian foreign policy expert and professor at Singapore’s S. Rajaratnam School for International Studies. (Read “China’s Navy: How Big a Threat to the U.S.?”)

In response to China’s gains — which include putting out three new submarines a year since 1995 — neighboring countries have also set about beefing up their fleets. Just a week after the ceremonies in Qingdao, Vietnam announced its purchase of six kilo-class submarines from Russia. On May 2, the Australian government published a white paper outlining a twenty year, $74 billion plan to revitalize its navy so it could be ready, if need be, to counter a “major power adversary” — a thinly veiled reference to how some defense officials there imagine China’s military project. “The front line of the Cold War may have been in Western Europe,” says Andrew Davies, an expert on Asian military modernization at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, a Canberra-based think tank. “But a future one could well be drawn through the western Pacific.”

Read the rest:

Above: Missile Destroyer Haikou 171 of the PLA Navy’s South China Sea Fleet.  She departed with two other Chinese warships on a mission to the Gulf of Aden near Somali on anti-pirate patrol in December.  Many in the West see this as a sign of renewed cooperation between China and other military powers.  Others see this move as practice for more far flung Chinese naval deployments.


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This US Navy file photo shows the military Sealift Command ocean surveillance ship USNS Impeccable (T-AGOS-23). Five Chinese vessels maneuvered dangerously close to a US Navy ship in the South China Sea on Sunday, March 8, 2009, approaching within 25 feet of the unarmed surveillance ship, the Pentagon said.  USNS Victorious, a sister ship, was apparently harassed the week of May 1, 2009, by China at sea.(AFP/NVNS)

One Response to “China’s Navy Grows and the World Watches Warily”

  1. no2liberals Says:

    Jeff Head’s site has an amazing gallery of ChiComm naval power.
    It has images from 2004-2009.

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