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The Chinese Navy Will Be Bigger Than America's By 2020
Kris Osborn, Military.com
Dec. 13, 2014, 10:34 AM
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China navy PLA aircraft carrier LiaoningReutersChinese naval soldiers stand guard on China's first aircraft carrier Liaoning, as it travels towards a military base in Sanya, Hainan province.
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China has plans to grow its navy to 351 ships by 2020 as the Chinese continue to develop their military’s ability to strike global targets, according to a new report.
The 2014 US-China Economic and Security Review Commission recommended to Congress the US Navy respond by building more ships and increase its presence in the Pacific region – a strategy they US military has already started.
The commission asked Congress to increase its Pacific fleet up to 67 ships and rebalance homeports such that 60-percent of the force is based in the region by 2020.
The commission's recommendations, which are based on Congressional testimony, expert assessments and open-source information on China’s military and US-Chinese relations, are consistent with Pentagon’s stated plans for the region.
The Navy’s intended Pacific rebalance is designed to station 60-percent of the fleet in the area, rotate more ships and sailors through Pacific ports and move Marine Corps units through Darwin, Australia. Part of the Navy’s Pacific rebalance strategy includes plans to rotate up to four Littoral Combat Ships through Singapore, among other things.
Defense analysts have questioned where the US Navy has the resources and funding to expand its presence in the Pacific adequately enough to meet the emerging Chinese threat. Critics point to the sweeping sequestration cuts as an example of the budgetary challenges that US Navy officials face.
Opponents to this strategy point out that the US has 11 aircraft carriers, the Chinese have one. And that one carrier still lacks an aircraft wing capable of operating off a carrier deck.
The commission cites a platforms and weapons systems the Chinese are developing, which change the strategic calculus regarding how US carriers and surface ships might need to operate in the region. The report mentions the Chinese DF-21D, a precision-guided, land-launched anti-ship ballistic missile designed to reach surface targets at ranges greater than 900 nautical miles.
“China is pursuing a missile-centric strategy with the purpose of holding US aircraft carriers at high risk if they operate in China’s near seas and thereby hinder their access to those waters in the event of a crisis. Given China’s growing navy and the US Navy’s planned decline in the size of its fleet, the balance of power and presence in the region is shifting in China’s favor,” the commission states.
While the commission says the exact amount of Chinese military spending is difficult to identify, China’s projected defense spending for 2014 is cited at $131 billion, approximately 12.2 percent greater than 2013. This figure is about the sixth of what the US spends annually.
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