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Surface Forces: Why China Really Wants A Big Navy
   Next Article → STRATEGIC WEAPONS: Out With The Old, But Slowly
December 11, 2009: The growth of the Chinese navy, seen from the Chinese point of view, is the result of China's three decades of economic growth and modernization. This economic growth depends on massive imports of raw materials, particularly oil and ores, especially iron ore. While China's economy could continue to grow without its massive exports, that economy would collapse without the imports. Thus China has gone from being classic "Continental Power" (that was not dependent on seaborne commerce), to a maritime power, that must maintain access to  oceanic supply routes. Thus China needs a navy to help preserve that access.

Russia, the other great Eurasian continental power, is still one. Russia produces its own oil, and can get anything else it needs via land routes in Eurasia. Thus Russia is not overly concerned that its navy is shrinking to the size of coast guard. China, however, has to be particularly concerned with the sea routes to distant Persian Gulf and Africa. Australia is closer, but still a long sea distance away. It's not that China wants to fight a naval war, but it does want a strong enough navy to prevent any smaller, rogue, nation from interfering with Chinese shipping. For example, China's contribution to the anti-piracy patrol in the Gulf of Aden is a big deal in China. For once, the Chinese Navy is able to reach a long distance, and protect Chinese interests.

In particular, China has to worry about the Straits of Malacca (the narrow seaway providing the quickest passage between the Pacific and Indian oceans). Some 20 percent of all world trade moves through these straits. Sea traffic here is vulnerable to naval mines and sinking large ships in shallower channels. This would disrupt some traffic. Near total shutdown of the straits would cause economic disruption worldwide, and especially in China. Shipping costs would go up and there would be lots of shipping delays. Ultimate economic costs would run into the hundreds of billion dollars. China needs to stay on good terms with Singapore (the island city, populated largely by ethnic Chinese, right on the straits), and have a naval force capable to protecting the straits from any threat.

Then there is the Indian Ocean. India takes the name seriously, and considers itself the guardian of the sea routes through this vast area. This includes most of the oil coming out of the Persian Gulf (where most of the world's known oil reserves are). India needs access to that oil, as well as to African resources. India is not receptive to seeing the Chinese Navy operating nearby, but the Chinese feel they have to show up, to prepare for any contingency.

From China's perspective, the U.S. Navy is not the big threat, unless the Americans ally themselves with India, or anyone else trying to cut China's maritime supply lines.

Next Article → STRATEGIC WEAPONS: Out With The Old, But Slowly
  

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Bison Man    Indian Navy   12/11/2009 11:59:16 AM
Sure wish we could give them a carrier.  It would really help cement relations with their Navy.  And help move them away from the russians.  and butress them against the Chinses. 
 
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Hamilcar    Still making excuses.    12/11/2009 1:14:51 PM
for the PRC bandits on SP? Where is Nan when you need him? 
 
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SAE       12/11/2009 3:12:43 PM
This so backwards! Who is it who going to seriously threaten China's sealanes? Is it not the Chinese navy that threatens anyone else's sealanes? Is it not China that threatens to invade their neighbors like Taiwan? Especially if they get another dictator like Mao again, it is Chinese that are going to be a threat to world peace in the future, not the other way around.
 
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bartrat       12/11/2009 3:32:41 PM

Sure wish we could give them a carrier.  It would really help cement relations with their Navy.  And help move them away from the russians.  and butress them against the Chinses. 
Bison Man, please correct if I am wrong:
You idea is to give the Indian Navy the recently retired KittyHawk CV.
 
If that is true, I too second the notion.I would throw in few hundred million USD in training and spare parts.
It would save me, a US tax payer a lot of money (est. >1billion USD to scrap). Also it would help India reclaim the INDIAN ocean. It would help the US-India realationship. Send a clear message to China, play nice. The drawback is that it is a big carrier and with only about 10 or so years of useful life it may  not be a good fit for the Indian Navy.
 
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gf0012-aust       12/11/2009 4:13:56 PM
the kitty is absolutely stuffed.  there are no economies of scale at all in any navy buying that ship.  it would be lifelong carbunkle on the navy and its loggies.

2nd hand at the wrong end of an assets useful shelf life is not a utility benefit.  its a nightmare lying dormant
 
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stoker    China's glass jaw   12/11/2009 6:22:48 PM
If China choses to go down the course of belligerence to gain ascendancy in its foreign affairs foray's, it will be quite easy to bring China to its knees.
 
All you would need to do, is mine mainland China's ports, no imports of raw materials and fuel in, and no export of goods out.
 
The Chinese navy doesn't yet have the capability to respond to a major mine warfare scenario.
 
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RtWingCon       12/11/2009 9:35:10 PM

the kitty is absolutely stuffed.  there are no economies of scale at all in any navy buying that ship.  it would be lifelong carbunkle on the navy and its loggies.



2nd hand at the wrong end of an assets useful shelf life is not a utility benefit.  its a nightmare lying dormant

Well put, wouldn't doubt your argument, but if true it would be India's problem/money pit and not ours. Plus the US could make a few a bucks on the refurb/sale. So how does the US lose on a Kittyhawk sale to India? Granted the Indian's would have to be "sold" on the idea, but if the Russians can sell them (including future cost overruns), we shouldn't have a problem selling them something that actually works. 
While economy of scale argument may be true(i don't know), the pride factor in owning a working "big" carrier would trump that argument anyways IMO. What other country has 60k ton carrier in the Indian Ocean? As we know with all arms purchases common sense doesn't always rule anyways.
 
 
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RtWingCon    then again...   12/11/2009 9:38:27 PM
MAybe the US Govt doesn't want the Kittyhawk in Indian hands or anyone else's. Why, I wouldn't know or guess.
 
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Nanheyangrouchuan       12/12/2009 12:01:40 AM
It would probably be better to teach the Indians how to build 40k to 60k carriers, the UK and France could do this, as could Japan.  Of course, sufficient land based air power from the southern tip and a good destroyer and sub force between Diego Garcia and India should stuff up China's oil and metals shipments.
 
Mines can also hit friendly ships, India could build small UUV "cruise missiles" programed with PLAN sonar information and let them loose to linger.
 
 
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bartrat       12/12/2009 12:20:22 AM
I do not totally disagree with you sir. It is very big and has not much life left in her.
But if the KittyHawk was FREE and the US threw in free training for crew, maybe not such a bad deal considering the Russians have the Indian's carrier and it may be a long time before they see it again. 
 
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