Tag Archives: Chinese naval power

China’s Maritime Threat Expands

The New York Analysis of Policy & Government has examined the latest reports on China’s rapidly growing armed threat to the U.S. In today’s article, we conclude by providing the latest information on Beijing’s major move into the world’s oceans.

The Report to Congress on China’s military power notes that “China is expanding its access to foreign ports to pre-position the necessary logistics support to regularize and sustain deployments in the ‘far seas,’ waters as distant as the Indian Ocean, Mediterranean Sea, and Atlantic Ocean.”

Beijing’s navy has gained a great deal of experience through its joint maneuvers with ally Russia, including training exercises in the Mediterranean, Baltic, and Pacific oceans. It has begun to conduct operations far from its home shores, including the broader waters of the Western Pacific, the Indian Ocean, and the Mediterranean.

The extraordinary rate of increase for China’s maritime force can be seen in the number of vessels recently developed.  It should be noted that China already has more submarines than its U.S. Navy counterpart, and will have significantly more ships overall by 2020.

“Through 2008, China had only one ballistic missile submarine. By 2016, that figure had grown to four… Until 2012, China had no aircraft carriers. China’s first carrier entered service in 2012. China is building one or two additional carriers, and observers speculate China may eventually field a total force of four to six carriers. Until 2014, China had no corvettes. Since then, China has built corvettes at a rapid rate, and at least 31 had entered service as of early 2017, with some observers projecting an eventual force of more than 60. In 2016, the PLA Navy commissioned 18 ships, including a Type 052D guided missile destroyer, three Type 054A guided missile frigates as well as six Type 056 corvettes. These ships have a total displacement of 150,000 tons, roughly half of the overall displacement of the [British] Royal Navy. In January alone, the Navy commissioned three ships—one destroyer, one electronic reconnaissance ship and one corvette.

“This force is equipped for a wide range of missions including offshore air defense, maritime strike, maritime patrol, antisubmarine warfare, and, in the not too distant future, carrier based operations. Just a decade ago, this air modernization relied very heavily on Russian imports. Following in the footsteps of the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF), the PLA(N) has recently begun benefitting from domestic combat aircraft production.

“Beijing’s Marine Corps is in the midst of a massive reorganization and build out that will greatly enhance China’s ability to project power abroad. At the center of the plan multiplying the relatively small force five times—from about 20,000 uniformed personnel to potentially over 100,000 Marines.

The Congressional  Research Service (CRS) has just released its own report,  “China Naval Modernization: Implications for U.S. Navy Capabilities on the growing prowess of Beijing’s navy. “ The CRS report notes:

“China’s naval modernization effort encompasses a broad array of platform and weapon acquisition programs, including anti-ship ballistic missiles (ASBMs), anti-ship cruise missiles (ASCMs), submarines, surface ships, aircraft, and supporting C4ISR (command and control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance) systems. China’s naval modernization effort also includes improvements in maintenance and logistics, doctrine, personnel quality, education and training, and exercises.

“Potential oversight issues for Congress include the following:

  • whether the U.S. Navy in coming years will be large enough and capable enough to adequately counter improved Chinese maritime A2/AD forces while also adequately performing other missions around the world;
  • whether the Navy’s plans for developing and procuring long-range carrier-based aircraft and long-range ship- and aircraft-launched weapons are appropriate;
  • whether the Navy can effectively counter Chinese ASBMs and submarines; and
  • whether the Navy, in response to China’s maritime A2/AD capabilities, should shift over time to a more distributed fleet architecture.”

CNA, a nonprofit research and analysis organization located in Arlington, VA. Has also examined the rise of Beijing’s maritime force  in a report entitled  “China’s Far Sea’s Navy: The Implications of the “Open Seas Protection” Mission.

The CNA study concluded that “China’s shipbuilding industry has unquestionably demonstrated the ability to produce modern warships and submarines, while at the same time continuing to lead the world in total shipbuilding output…

“China is putting power projection components into place—carrier air, land attack cruise missiles on multi-mission destroyers, and amphibious forces—that, when assembled as a task force, are very credible. By 2020 China will have the second-largest modern amphibious capability in the world (after the United States), and potentially will be able to embark between 5,000-6,000 marines for operations anywhere in the world. When combined with modern destroyers as escorts and an aircraft carrier to provide air defense, China will have a distant-seas power projection capability for the first time since Admiral Zheng He’s last voyage (1431–33).

“… while the PLAN is expanding, virtually all of the other traditional maritime powers (India is a notable exception) have downsized and reduced major warship production.

“One implication for Washington of potential “open seas protection” task forces routinely operating in the western Indian Ocean is that U.S. authorities can no longer assume unencumbered freedom to posture U.S. naval forces off Middle East and East African hotspots if Chinese interests are involved and differ from Washington’s. With the growth of the PLAN nuclear-powered submarine force, the United States may face the challenge of keeping track of far seas-deployed PLAN submarines that could be deployed on missions close to U.S. territory—especially in U.S. EEZs.”

The South China Morning Post recently reported on a major Chinese breakthrough that could Beijing’s navy a major edge in any potential maritime conflict. According to the article,

“Chinese scientists claim to have made a major breakthrough in magnetic detection technology that could bring unprecedented accuracy to the process of finding hidden metallic objects – from minerals to submarines. Bottom of Form

The Chinese Academy of Sciences, the country’s largest research institute, said in an article on its website on Wednesday that a “superconductive magnetic anomaly detection array” has been developed in Shanghai and passed inspection by an expert panel.

The experts were quoted as saying that the device, which works from the air, could be used to pinpoint the location of minerals buried deep beneath the earth in Inner Mongolia, for example, with a level of precision as high as anything currently available around the world.

The device could also be used on civilian and military aircraft as a “high performance equipment and technical solution to resources mapping, civil engineering, archaeology and national defence”, the article said.

China’s military may soon adopt the technology, if it hasn’t already, said Professor Zhang Zhi, an expert in remote sensing with the Institute of Geophysics and Geomatics, China University of Geosciences in Wuhan, Hubei.

‘The technology could be used to detect minerals on land, and in the ocean to nail down submarines,’ said Zhang, who was not involved in the project.

The Chinese-Russian Threat to America

The New York Analysis of Policy & Government has examined the latest reports on China’s rapidly growing armed threat to the U.S. In today’s article, we examine Beijing’s military ties to Russia.

A crucial element of China’s jump to military superpower status has been its alliance with Russia.

The U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission’s report on Beijing’s military ties to Moscow (E&SRC) notes that

“Since the normalization of relations between China and the Soviet Union in 1989, Beijing and Moscow have prioritized defense and security ties, which are now among the most important components of the overall relationship. This emphasis is reflected in their 1996 “strategic partnership of coordination,” which remains the foundation for high-level cooperation…China steadily increased arms imports from Russia, eventually becoming Russia’s leading destination for arms exports. …Since 2012… closer defense ties have been a key driver of warming China-Russia relations. Indeed, China and Russia appear to be moving toward a higher level of defense cooperation. The three main areas of the bilateral defense relationship—military exercises, military-technical cooperation, and high-level military-to-military contacts—show increases in the level and quality of engagement, collectively reflecting closer defense ties.

“…recent developments in China-Russia military-to-military relations have important implications for U.S. security interests and the Asia Pacific.

  • Russia’s sale of Su-35 fighter jets to China (deliveries of which began in December 2016) will help the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) contest U.S. air superiority, provide China with technology that could help accelerate the development of its own advanced fighters, and serve as a valuable training and learning platform before China fields its next-generation aircraft.
  • The Russian sale of the S-400 surface-to-air missile (SAM) defense system to China (with deliveries starting in 2018) should help China improve capital air defense and could assist the PLA in achieving increased air superiority over Taiwan if deployed to the Eastern Theater Command (bordering the Taiwan Strait). This SAM system would pose a challenge for Taiwan’s air assets in a potential cross-Strait conflict, the air assets of U.S. allies or partners in a South China Sea or East China Sea contingency, and U.S. aircraft, should the United States decide to become involved in such potential conflicts. The S-400 also could be used to help enforce China’s East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ).
  • The increased complexity and focus on joint operations of military exercises between the PLA and Russian Armed Forces help provide both sides with valuable experience in pursuing their defense objectives. The exercises are particularly useful for the PLA—which lacks recent combat experience—because they provide much-needed insights and knowledge that help China pursue its military modernization goals.
  • The recently expanded geographic scope of Sino-Russian military exercises, along with a new focus on missile defense, reflects increasingly aligned security interests and suggests the two countries are both signaling their respective support for the other’s security priorities. Greater alignment between the two countries in the security realm could pose challenges to the United States, its allies, and partners.

In an astute review of the relationship between Moscow and Beijing, Douglas Schoen and Melik Kaylan, in their book “The Russia China Axis,” state:

“While [the United States during the Obama Administration was] hobbled, Russia and China are resurgent on the international stage.  Thinking on the challenges each Axis nation presents, we can reach some broad conclusions: First, America’s influence around the world is receding: our military and diplomatic power; our political influence; economic might, and, perhaps most dangerously, the power and appeal of our ideas.  Second, in these same areas, the influence of Russia and China is increasing…

“Russia and China are increasingly expansionist…Both…have incfrased their military budgets substantially while the United States [under the Obama Administration] dramatically [scaled] back…Russia and China have become increasingly nationalistic and aggressive…while America [became]…inner directed, even isolationist. Russia and China are pursuing systematic plans to upgrade their their militaries and expand their conventional forces; the United States [under Obama slashed] its defense budget and reduced the size of its conventional [and nuclear] forces…”

The Report concludes on Monday.

New Reports Highlight The Threat From China

The New York Analysis of Policy & Government has examined the latest reports on China’s rapidly growing armed threat to the U.S., and summarizes them in this three-part review.

The danger from China’s dramatically increasing military power has been examined by several recently released governmental and private sources. The New York Analysis of Policy & Government recently examined Beijing’s growing nuclear arsenal. The recently released reports provide insights into its vastly increased conventional power.

We have examined these crucial reviews, and summarize them in this three-part article.

The most significant of the worrisome analyses is the Department of Defenses’ (DOD) 2017 “Annual Report to Congress on the Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Report of China.” (DoD)

According to the DoD, “Since 1996, the PLA has made tremendous strides, and, despite improvements to the U.S. military, the net change in capabilities is moving in favor of China. Some aspects of Chinese military modernization, such as improvements to PLA ballistic missiles, fighter aircraft, and attack submarines, have come extraordinarily quickly by any reasonable historical standard.

“Over the next five to 15 years, if U.S. and PLA forces remain on roughly current trajectories, Asia will witness a progressively receding frontier of U.S. dominance.

“The ability to contest dominance might lead Chinese leaders to believe that they could deter U.S. intervention in a conflict between it and one or more of its neighbors. This, in turn, would undermine U.S. deterrence and could, in a crisis, tip the balance of debate in Beijing as to the advisability of using force.

DOD officials have expressed concern that the technological and qualitative edge that U.S. military forces have had relative to the military forces of other countries is being narrowed by improving military capabilities in other countries. China’s improving naval capabilities contribute to that concern. Challenge to U.S. Sea Control and U.S. Position in Western Pacific Observers of Chinese and U.S. military forces view China’s improving naval capabilities as posing a potential challenge in the Western Pacific to the U.S. Navy’s ability to achieve and maintain control of blue-water ocean areas in wartime—the first such challenge the U.S. Navy has faced since the end of the Cold War

“In 2016, China’s leaders advanced an ambitious agenda of military modernization and organizational reforms. China’s military modernization is targeting capabilities with the potential to degrade core U.S. military-technological advantages.

“To support this modernization, China uses a variety of methods to acquire foreign military and dual-use technologies, including cyber theft, targeted foreign direct investment, and exploitation of the access of private Chinese nationals to such technologies. Several cases emerged in 2016 of China using its intelligence services, and employing other illicit approaches that violate U.S. laws and export controls, to obtain national security and export-restricted technologies, controlled equipment, and other materials.

“As China’s global footprint and international interests have grown, its military modernization program has become more focused on supporting missions beyond China’s periphery…

“China’s increasingly assertive efforts to advance its sovereignty and territorial claims, its forceful rhetoric, and lack of transparency about its growing military capabilities and strategic decision-making continue to cause concern among countries in the region and have caused some to enhance their ties to the United States. These concerns are likely to intensify as the PLA continues to modernize, especially in the absence of greater transparency.”

A recent Rand study concurs. “Over the past two decades, China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has transformed itself … into a capable, modern military. ..Annual real (inflation-adjusted) growth in China’s defense spending averaged 11 percent per year between 1996 and 2015…In December 2004, then-premier of China Hu Jintao outlined “new historical missions” for the PLA, which opened the door to a wider range of operations. … China would enjoy enormous situational and geographic advantages in any likely East Asian scenario … This enables the PLA to focus largely on “tooth” (combat forces) as opposed to “tail” (support assets).”

The Report continues tomorrow

Can the Army Save the Navy?

Can the U.S. Army help perform the task that the U.S. Navy has become too small to accomplish?

Rep. Randy Forbes (R-Va.) has examined a Rand Corporation  study which indicates that ground-based missiles under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Army could help deter Beijing’s rapidly growing maritime prowess. In addition to developing a blue-water navy, China has produced powerful anti-ship missile technology which imperils the remnants of the once-powerful American Pacific fleet, now reduced to its smallest size since World War One.

According to the study, “Over the past several years, some strategists have argued that China is shifting the balance of power in the Western Pacific in its favor, in large part by fielding anti-access weapons that could threaten U.S. and allied access to vital areas of interest. Others have argued that such innovations have lowered the costs of anti-access capabilities such that regional actors can contest ‘America’s 60-year-old dominance over the global commons and its ability to maintain their openness.”

The study describes two key advantages to land-based deterrence:

  • If China takes steps to limit a U.S.-led coalition’s freedom of movement in the Western Pacific, the United States and its allies must be able to counter this strategy by limiting Chinese naval freedom of movement. The strategic placement of anti-ship missile systems (ASMs) has the potential to ensure the success of such an operation.
  • Ground-based ASMs are mobile and relatively easy to conceal. They could also have a range of uses, from serving as a deterrent to Chinese power projection to enabling blockades of critical waterways.

With the U.S. Navy far below the strength required to secure the safety of the Pacific and with the White House intent on reducing defense costs, land based anti-ship missiles could provide some measure of deterrence against Beijing’s growing aggressiveness.