China's growing military power and its swift movement into a new global naval strategy (beyond the Taiwan zone) that has caught many analystst by surprise.We have been warning for years that China has been planning a drive into the IOR/Gulf for its navy and that all the noise about Taiwan was an exercise indeception.The recent expose of the secret Chinese naval and sub base on Hainan island caught the world by surprise.Constructing its underground nuclear sub pens couldn't have been built without years of planning.The "string of pearls" from Gwadar through the IOR has clearly indicated its ambitions and direction and the massive sub building programme indicates that China will follow the German example of WW2 and use its "80+" subs that will be in service within a decade's time extensively in the IOR with a view of disrupting enemy naval and tanker ops if required in a crisis.While it also has clear carrier ambitions,with at least three 60,000t carriers planned,It might use air bases in countries like Pakistan,Burma and Sri Lanka and on the African continent ,where it is investing very heavily in that continent,to support its naval forces in the IOR.India's anti-piracy plans for an air capability in Oman is an adroit step in countering a future Chinese encirclement of India.But first,we should "sanitise" Sri Lanka by signing the defence agreement with it which has been languishing for some time,after the LTTE is defeated.
The denial by the IN about an Indo-Chinese sub spat off Somalia,is a mischievous attempt by the Chinese to "equate" Chinese and Indian naval forces in their legitimate interest in the region.India should now maintain permanent patrols in the S.China sea and obtain base/logistic facilities from Vietnam for its naval forces in the Far East.It also demands another major increase in the defence budget for the IN and a swift and urgent increase in the number of warships,especially subs in its inventory.http://www.nytimes.com/cfr/world/slot3_ ... .html?_r=1
Backgrounder: China's Military Power
By JAYSHREE BAJORIA
Published: February 5, 2009
Scope of the Threat
Since the 1990s, China has dramatically improved its military capabilities on land and sea, in the air, and in space. Recently, China has begun to project its military power beyond the Pacific Ocean by deploying a flotilla of small warships in December 2008 to the Gulf of Aden to aid in international efforts to fight Somali piracy. Historically, the United States is most concerned about the possibility of a conflict between China and Taiwan, though tensions between the two have lessened since 2008. But looking decades ahead, U.S. military planners clearly see the potential for China to develop as a "peer competitor." The U.S. Defense Department's 2008 report on China's military power says "much uncertainty surrounds China's future course, in particular in the area of its expanding military power and how that power might be used."
But experts say China is still decades away from challenging U.S. military's preeminence. Its ground forces field 1980s vintage armor and suffer from significant shortcomings in command and control, air defense, logistics, and communications. Its air force, too, lags behind those of Western powers, though China flies about one hundred top-end Russian Su-27 warplanes and has contracted to purchase newer Su-33s, which are capable of carrier-based operations. China plans to build aircraft carriers domestically, but currently has none under construction.
None of this, however, adds up to an arms race. James Mulvenon, director of the Washington-based Center for Intelligence Research and Analysis, says China's military modernization "makes perfect sense to me as a natural evolution commensurate with China's rise as a great power." The concerns expressed by Western military experts focus on longer-term motives. Kerry Dumbaugh, a specialist in Asian affairs at the U.S. Congressional Research Service, sums up these security concerns (PDF) in a 2008 report, citing China's lack of transparency in military funding and operations; recurring instances of espionage directed at obtaining U.S. military secrets; evidence of China's improving military and technological prowess; and Beijing's military and technological assistance to states like Zimbabwe, Myanmar, and others viewed as repressive or international pariahs. Many of these issues may become less contentious through a better military-to-military relationship and improved trust between the two powers, say experts. For instance, the increasing economic interdependence of the United States and China should provide a solid basis for avoiding conflict. But accidents between the two militaries, such as the midair collision between a U.S. spy plane and a Chinese fighter in 2001, or the accidental missile strike on China's embassy in Belgrade in 1999, could still spark a conflict neither side desires.
China's Modernization Agenda
China says it pursues a national defense policy solely aimed at protecting its territory and people, and in keeping with its concept of "peaceful development." The government's latest white paper on national defense says it will "by and large reach the goal of modernization of national defense and armed forces by the mid-21st century." The paper stresses China's hopes to create a more technologically advanced, capable military that will allow it to conduct and sustain operations at a greater distance from its border and says the country will make much progress toward that goal by 2020.
As part of this modernization agenda, China is acquiring advanced weapons systems from foreign suppliers as well as trying to develop its own. U.S. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, in a statement to the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee in January 2009, said the areas of greatest concern are cyber- and anti-satellite warfare, anti-air and anti-ship weaponry, submarines, and ballistic missiles. "Modernization in these areas could threaten America's primary means of projecting power and helping allies in the Pacific: our bases, air and sea assets, and the networks that support them," he said.
China caused an international uproar in January 2007 when it launched a ballistic missile and destroyed one of its own satellites. The anti-satellite test displayed the growing prowess of China's space program and raised questions about China's intentions and civil-military relations within the country. In February 2008, U.S. destruction of a crippled U.S. spy satellite demonstrated that space may emerge as the new contested domain between the great powers. Yet the United States' relative space advantage will probably shrink as China strengthens its space capabilities over the next ten to twenty years, writes Bruce W. MacDonald in a September 2008 Council Special Report. The United States should champion an approach to space that emphasizes deterrence, he suggests, as well as consider new diplomatic initiatives aimed at preventing space from becoming a potential conflict zone.
The United States has also accused China of hacking into government computer networks at the U.S. Departments of State, Commerce, and Defense. Chinese electronic espionage has been alleged against British companies, as well as government agencies in France, Germany, South Korea, and Taiwan. In its November 2008 report to Congress, the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission noted that cyberspace is a critical vulnerability of the U.S. government and economy. The report warns: "China is aggressively pursuing cyber warfare capabilities that may provide it with an asymmetric advantage against the United States. In a conflict situation, this advantage would reduce current U.S. conventional military dominance."
China has been modernizing its nuclear weapons systems and continues to emphasize its "no first use" policy on nuclear weapons. However, nonproliferation expert Henry Sokolski, in May 2008 testimony (PDF) before the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, said if China were to increase its nuclear weapons deployment, it could prompt its immediate neighbors--South Korea, Japan, and Taiwan--to initiate nuclear weapons programs. Mulvenon says it is a concern for Washington that China has now finally deployed the DF-31--a solid-fueled, nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missile to replace its aging liquid-fueled missiles. The DF-31 provides China with credible and secure second-strike capability, the ability to respond to a nuclear attack with powerful nuclear retaliation.
Beyond specific areas of concern, analysts express worry about discrepancies in China's defense budgets. China says its defense expenditure for 2007 was around $52 billion and its 2008 defense budget is $61 billion. However, the Pentagon says these figures are grossly underreported. In its annual report to Congress, it estimated China's total military-related spending for 2007 to be between $97 billion and $139 billion. China argues that its military budget was only 1.38 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP) in 2007, while U.S. defense expenditure was 4.5 percent of GDP. Experts also point to the absolute size of the United States' defense budgets to show the asymmetric comparison. The 2008 U.S. defense budget was $ 481.4 billion plus $141.7 billion for the "Global War on Terror."
U.S. Policy Response
While economic and trade relations between the United States and China have been growing, military to military relations remain relatively underdeveloped. Military conflict between the two is highly unlikely, but "not impossible" according to CFR Senior Fellow Adam Segal. Misperception or misunderstanding over an incident in the Taiwan Strait or the sudden collapse of North Korea might be the spark of a conflict neither side wants, he says.
The April 2001 "spy plane" debacle is an example of such a misunderstanding. Experts are worried there could be more incidents as the Chinese Navy and Air Force counduct exercises and patrols farther away from China and come into more frequent contact with the United States, Taiwan, and Japan.
But some experts see little prospect of a closer military relationship between the two countries in the near future. Admiral Timothy J. Keating, commander of U.S. Pacific Command, told CFR.org it would be a "giant leap of faith" to believe the United States and China could develop a close military partnership any time soon. To improve the relationship, Keating says, will require "more transparency, a better understanding of intention on our part of the Chinese, and to get there we would need more active cooperation with the Chinese."
The United States has followed a two-pronged strategy in the military-to-military relationship, says Mulvenon. It engages with the Chinese military through senior-level exchanges, and it has sought to modernize and reform its own forces. A 2007 CFR Independent Task Force report (PDF), which was cochaired by Dennis Blair, the Obama administration's director of national intelligence, recommended a sustained high-level military-strategic dialogue to complement the "Senior Dialogue" started by the deputy secretary of state in 2005 and the "Strategic Economic Dialogue" launched by the treasury secretary in 2006. It also recommends that Washington strengthen its security partnerships with China's neighbors. As this Backgrounder notes, the United States has been forging closer relations with countries in the region, including India, another regional power. It concluded a groundbreaking nuclear deal with New Delhi in 2008, lifting a three-decade U.S. moratorium on nuclear trade with India. The United States has also been upgrading forward deployed naval and air forces in Guam.
How U.S. defense planners will respond to China's military buildup going forward is also dependent on the ongoing debate over the biggest threats to U.S. national security in the twenty-first century. Writing in the latest Foreign Affairs, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates says the country now faces both conventional adversaries and irregular conflicts from insurgents and non-state actors, and it should "seek a better balance in the portfolio of capabilities it has--the types of units fielded, the weapons bought, the training done." However, in a situation of finite Department of Defense resources, some analysts argue that "striking the correct planning balance" (PDF) between operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, the war on terror, and China's military modernization will be a key defense planning challenge.
Another report on China's sub plans.http://blogs.wsj.com/chinajournal/2009/ ... lenews_wsj
From the Depths: China Invests in Submarines
China’s increasingly capable navy has been in the headlines lately for its first distant-waters deployment in modern history –- two destroyers and a supply ship dispatched to the Gulf of Aden to join the international battle against Somali pirates.
But what is really drawing attention from rival navies and the country’s neighbors is action below the surface, where China’s better-equipped submarine force lurks. China has been making substantial investments in subs -– buying some from Russia and building their own -– in an effort to offset the advantages of navies with bigger, stronger surface fleets, such as that of the U.S.
It’s part of a Chinese strategy of asymmetric warfare. In this case, U.S. planners see it as directed primarily against the aircraft carrier battle groups that are at the core of the U.S. fleet and America’s ability to project military power around the globe. The immediate aim, the U.S. military fears, is to delay or prevent U.S. intervention in any conflict between China and Taiwan.
On the surface: Sailors in the Chinese navy on review (Photo by AFP/Getty Images)
On Tuesday, the Federation of American Scientists issued a report saying that U.S. naval intelligence counted 12 “patrols” by Chinese attack submarines in 2008 -– double the number in the previous year and the highest so far recorded. The group received the information through a Freedom of Information Act request. It is unclear what constitutes a patrol, but it is thought to mean an extended voyage.
While well below the likely level of U.S. attack submarine patrols, the number appears to be higher than the number undertaken by China’s northern neighbor, Russia. China has a fleet of about 50 attack submarines as well as submarines designed to carry nuclear-armed ballistic missiles. Those missile subs have never gone on a patrol, according to U.S. intelligence reports received by the FAS.
In recent years, China has acquired new, so-called Kilo class diesel-powered submarines from Russia, adding them to a fleet that also includes home-grown attack subs, including some powered by nuclear reactors. The Kilo subs are especially stealthy and hard to detect when submerged.
But even China’s sizable number of outmoded submarine clunkers present a naval challenge – especially if China were to use them to flood the waters around Taiwan in the event of conflict there. Finding subs underwater is one of the hardest tasks for any navy and the shallow waters of the Taiwan strait make it even harder. The prospect of a torpedo hit from even a low-tech sub would likely be enough to slow down U.S. naval operations.
China’s investments in its navy and the rest of its armed forces have prompted calls from Washington and other capitals for more transparency on the part of Beijing. High-level dialogue between Chinese and U.S. officers has been essentially frozen since Washington approved an arms-sale deal with Taiwan last year.
So far, the U.S. Pacific commander says, there has been no thaw since President Barack Obama took office. “I have seen no change since the new administration came in,” Admiral Timothy Keating told Reuters in an interview in Washington Thursday. He said there are still contacts between the two sides, but that “We would much prefer it to be a more formal, a more regular and a more frequent dialogue than it is right now.”
– Gordon Fairclough