News / Asia

China Working to Counter US Naval Power in the Pacific

China's growing military capabilities are raising concerns in the United States and among its neighbors.

The U.S. Department of Defense says China is developing a ballistic missile that can hit aircraft carriers more than 1,500 kilometers away.

That program is in addition to the country's already extensive missile defense system, which includes more than one thousand missiles pointed at Taiwan, which Beijing considers part of its territory.

In addition, the Pentagon says China is working to build its first aircraft carrier, which would put it in a small group of nations able to project power well into international waters.

Need for a deterrent

While Chinese government officials say little about defense plans, some Asia security experts think there are two major reasons for its missile and carrier programs.

One is Taiwan - which has been separately governed since Nationalist forces fled there in 1949, after losing the country's civil war. China has threatened to use force to regain control if Taiwan declares independence. The United States has said it will help the island defend itself from an attack.

Wu Xinbo is an international relations professor at Shanghai's Fudan University.

Wu says if there were a military conflict in the Taiwan Strait, China needs a deterrent to prevent a U.S. aircraft carrier from entering the area to, in his words, "interfere with the Chinese handling of the situation."

Wu says China wants to build an aircraft carrier largely to defend international shipping lanes, which Beijing considers crucial to its export-driven economy.

Denny Roy is a senior fellow at the East-West Center in Hawaii. He says he is not surprised that the Chinese would develop a long-range ballistic missile to protect what it considers its interests.

"The Chinese have long had particular expertise in missile development, so it is natural that they would rely on this as a way of countering U.S. strength. It is much easier for the Chinese to build an anti-aircraft carrier missile than building an aircraft carrier battle group." Roy said.

China ramping up investment in nuclear weapons

China was ramping up investment in nuclear weapons, long-range missiles, submarines, aircraft carriers and cyber warfare, and building up a force that could strike as far as the US territory of Guam.

The U.S. and other countries have questioned Beijing's need for either a carrier or new missiles because, they say, there currently are no real threats to China's interests. But Wu says there is also one basic reason for doing so now - money.

Wu says it was not possible for China to build an aircraft carrier before, but now China's economic boom has given the country the means to work on one.

James Nolt is a senior fellow who specializes in U.S.-East Asia relations at the World Policy Institute in New York. Since 2007, he has lived in Nanjing, China, as the head of the New York Institute of Technology's Nanjing campus.

Nolt says even if China builds its own aircraft carrier, it will be decades behind the United States in operational know-how and in numbers.

"The ability to develop an effective carrier, it involves a lot of technology and a lot of training, and operational capabilities, that it might take China many years to develop," Nolt says, "if they chose to do so. Even if they had an aircraft carrier, one aircraft carrier would not be significant."

Nolt points out that even with its missile programs and plans for a carrier, China's military capabilities lag behind those of the United States. "They talk about China without comparing it to the U.S. in any systematic way, which if they did, it would be very easy to see that China's power is vastly smaller in many areas and its capabilities are vastly limited compared to the U.S.," he said.

But China's neighbors, including Southeast Asian nations that dispute Beijing's claims to scores of small, uninhabited islands in the South China Sea, have quietly expressed concern about its military buildup.

Pentagon report rejected

U.S. officials say they do not know the extent of China's military power. They repeatedly have called for greater Chinese transparency on its military capabilities and intentions.

The East-West Center's Roy says China may want to preserve some secrecy because it sees itself as the weaker power.

"China, seeing itself as being much inferior to the U.S. military at the moment, believes that it's quite unreasonable for the United States to ask for a large degree of transparency in Chinese military development, because from the Chinese point of view, they need to hide their weaknesses from the United States," Roy said.

Beijing rejected the latest Pentagon report and says it exaggerates what it calls "China's normal national defense and military build-up." The Defense Ministry has given no specific information about its progress in building a missile that can strike aircraft carriers.

Shortly after the Pentagon report was released, though, a leading Chinese newspaper, The Global Times, published an editorial calling on China to have an anti-ship ballistic missile and other so-called "carrier-killing measures." The editorial said China must build what it described as "a credible deterrence" to counter U.S. naval power in the Pacific Ocean.

At the same time, Beijing has grown increasingly vocal in recent months in demanding that U.S. ships stay away from wide areas of ocean - covering much of the Yellow, East and South China seas - where it claims sovereignty.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs