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China?s Naval Build-Up

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  • China?s Naval Build-Up

    China’s military has been expanding in sophistication and capabilities for over a decade, but it is finally getting close to actually amounting to something. And there are lots of interesting things about it.

    Almost every mercantile power in history has either ended up with a capable blue water navy or it has stopped being a mercantile power. It has been centuries since China was a mercantile power, but all that has changed in the last two decades. As China grows to one of the largest economies in the world, it will inevitably acquire a blue water navy with the ability to secure the sea lanes on which Chinese commerce depends. Pretty much everyone gets that. The question is, how does the world adjust to this new reality without getting sucked into a new arms race?

    The U.S. has been asking for transparency in the Chinese naval expansion since mid-decade, and we’ve been getting it. That’s one of the reasons a lot of people are concerned about it: we know so much about it because it’s being done in plain view. The U.S. and Chinese navies are also working hard at cooperative personnel exchanges. See this AFP release for an example.

    But it’s still a build-up, it’s still an altered tactical environment in which U.S. military personnel may have to operate. Here are some interesting aspects.

    There is a power-projection element in the build-up, but it is almost entirely aero-naval, not ground. Ten years ago the Chinese had the amphibious capability to land one infantry division on ...


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