Why China's Navy is a Threat
Image Credit: Uniphoto Press

Why China's Navy is a Threat


Civilian academics who study military affairs like to hold forth on tactical matters. But this can lead to misguided advice. Exhibit A: Prof. Bernard Loo of Singapore's Rajaratnam School of International Relations recently maintained that there's 'less than meets the eye' to the People's Liberation Army's (PLA) combat reach in South-east Asia. Now, he insists, 'is not the time to press the panic button.'
This upbeat appraisal rests on several flimsy assumptions and claims. If they heed Loo's advice, South-east Asian governments that can ill afford complacency will seriously misjudge the Chinese maritime challenge. They need not panic, but they must cope with China's waxing naval might—starting now.
First of all, Loo deprecates 'an alleged aircraft carrier-killing cruise missile,' suggesting a sea-skimming anti-ship missile with a range of a few score miles. But the anti-ship missile that vexes China-watchers is an anti-ship ballistic missile (ASBM), a weapon whose range, speed and hitting power dwarf that of any cruise missile. Estimates vary, but should the PLA perfect its ASBM, Chinese racketeers could pound away at ships underway up to 2,000 miles away.
What would this mean? It means that PLA forces could range the entire South China Sea from mobile launchers positioned on Hainan Island or elsewhere along the South China coast. Loo counsels Southeast Asian navies to simply wait out a Chinese Navy that lacks a robust logistics fleet. But if PLA forces can use land-based weaponry to sink ships in port or cruising the South China Sea, then this amounts to a strategy of defeat and destruction.
But sea power is anyway about more than the fleet. Even if the PLA Navy proves unable to mount a continuous presence in the South China Sea—an assumption growing more doubtful by the day—systems able to influence events at sea from the land provide continuous virtual presence throughout the spectrum of conflict, from peacetime to wartime. This versatility explains the emphasis Chinese strategists now place on extended-range shore-based weaponry.
Next, Loo claims that navies typically follow a three-phase tactical training and deployment cycle. This means one-third of the fleet is deployed at any given time, another third is refitting and unavailable for sea service and the remaining third is working up for deployment. From this Loo concludes that estimates of Chinese naval power wildly overstate the numbers of ships and aircraft available to Beijing at any given time.
There are two problems with this. For one, the 3:1 ratio isn't an iron law of naval operations but a rule of thumb derived from standard US Navy practice. But the US Navy, today's only global navy, is encumbered with commitments far more demanding than those confronting any regional fleet. As a result, American warships incur far greater wear-and-tear in the course of their duties. That requires frequent shipyard periods to refit.

February 17, 2013 at 11:44

this is a laughable arrogant comment. keep dreaming. chinese navy is made in china. it's all fake and copied technology!

ben sanchez
February 17, 2013 at 09:17

North Korea? The Chinese has invaded part of Philppines. 


NaTural Justice
August 9, 2012 at 04:43

Very Nice…
attacking each other…
Blame Each other with Old Hatred…

July 4, 2012 at 21:16

sadly, your world is over. The age of golden American has long gone.

July 4, 2012 at 21:14

what? US submarines is incredible? all US ever did is stole submarine constructing techs from Japanese and German in ww2. If I am not wrong, what US navy feared the most in pacific in ww2 was Japanese torpedoes.
What wrong with expanding Chinese military? every country expanding its military and needless to say the most one is USA. If they can do it, why cant the Chinese do it?

May 1, 2012 at 02:56

Chen Guangcheng

Read about him and try to say China doesn’t promote human rights. I’m surprised you still think this way. You must be controlled by the government. BTW China will never surpass the US in military might, Look into your facts more…

May 1, 2012 at 02:50

Your mistaking haha China will fall

Admiral Ho
December 19, 2011 at 17:00

“Barely a challenge for the Japanese navy?!! Hell, you should the White Paper put out by the Japanese. Seems they are scared silly of the Chinese navy! Where the hell you get your “facts”? Sound more like bias opinion and wishful thinking than anything else!

December 19, 2011 at 16:50

So, Washington can flaunt its navy all over the world, sending its fleets and aircraft carriers off other countries’ shores to threaten others? What does that say about your mentality and your standards? May the American navy experience more “threshers” and “scorpions”, and may your warships experience nuclear accidents!

December 19, 2011 at 16:43

Don’t make sweeping statements like “China doesn’t care about human rights”! You trampled on my rights when you say that. I care about you and your rights. See that makes me a superior being to you. So if you don’t aplogize for that insulting remark, I will nuke you. And remember, I did not start the war! You did.

Hu Zhang-min
December 19, 2011 at 16:36

Well said, China Dragon. Enough of American threats, lies and aggressions!

Reason and Cam
December 12, 2011 at 17:06

My dear “Dwayne”, I used to be like you – telling outright lies and spreading falsehoods, ridiculing and mocking the Chinese and China to destroy their image on behalf of CIA and Pentagon. But I have seen the light and repented. I pray you will too. God bless!

December 12, 2011 at 17:00

Which is to say that China has all the right to stop U.S.’s mischief-making in China’s neighbourhood. Washington’s mob-stirring among China’s neighbours against China and having naval drills, not to mention selling them prodigous quantities of arms, is like a rabble rouser inciting a bunch of mindless mobs against a harmless giant or innocent stranger. I look forward to see Beijing stiffening it spine to meet the challenges of Washington and pick up the glove and square off with Beijing and not blink before Washington does. How far really, does Washington wants to play this brinksmanshp game?

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