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China se lanza a la carrera de los portaviones Empty China se lanza a la carrera de los portaviones

Mensaje por szasi Enero 30th 2016, 23:02

Antes de poner la nota diré que México debería crear los suyos, pero en lugar de aviones tribulados deberían ser drones baratos y remplazables, con la posibilidad de usarlos en operaciones kamikaze.

Ahora bien, no sé si es una carrera real o es histeria, pero las ntoas sobre el tema abundarán.

Foreign Investors and China’s Naval Buildup
Chinese shipbuilders are looking to international capital markets to fund their operations.

By Gabriel Collins
September 09, 2015
1.4k  18 44
China’s military shipbuilders – now the world’s most prolific builders of large surface combatants and submarines – are leading a push to access local and global capital markets that other Chinese defense enterprises will likely emulate.

Between January 2004 and January 2015, the publicly listed arm of China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation, CSIC Limited and that of China State Shipbuilding Corporation, CSSC Holdings, raised a combined total of $22.26 billion from selling stock and bonds. This is approximately 20 percent more than the combined total that Huntington Ingalls, General Dynamics, and Lockheed Martin – three of the world’s largest and most sophisticated defense contractors – raised from the capital markets during that same timeframe.

Every dollar or RMB raised on the market and ploughed into upgraded yard infrastructure, staff, and warship equipment frees up military budget funds for other uses. Consider that each Type 054A frigate delivered to the PLAN likely costs approximately $360-375 million. Each billion dollars raised on the market thus can effectively fund naval hardware activity equivalent to the delivered cost of nearly three Type 054As—a substantial impact by any measure.

Quantifying the Activity

This analysis features the highlights of a paper my co-author Eric Anderson and I presented at the “China’s Naval Shipbuilding: Progress and Challenges,” conference held by the China Maritime Studies Institute at the U.S. Naval War College on 19-20 May 2015.

We created a unique proprietary dataset showing the number, type, and volume of capital markets transactions CSSC and CSIC executed between January 2004 and January 2015. These include both debt sales and equity issuances, and typically involved the companies’ respective listed arms: CSSC Holdings, Ltd. (SHA:600150) and CSIC Limited (SHA:601989.). Between January 2004 and January 2015, we count 31 transactions by the companies, for a combined total capital raised of $22.26 billion. Twelve transactions were by CSIC Limited, and nineteen by CSSC Holdings. Despite the initial public offerings of stock by CSSC in 2007 and CSIC in 2009, overall the companies have thus far issued much more debt than equity. To date, CSSC Holdings has raised a total of $8.63 billion from the debt markets and $3.02 billion from equity sales, while CSIC Ltd. has raised $7.04 billion from debt issuances and $3.57 billion from equity sales.

Figure 1. CSIC Ltd. and CSSC Holdings Capital Markets Transactions. Jan. 2004-Jan. 2015

Million USD

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Sources: Company reports, Chinese media, Authors’ analysis

A series of policy guidelines implemented in the early to mid-2000s helped set the stage for private capital to enter China’s defense enterprises. In 2003, China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) began tightly restricting related party transactions (including prohibiting various funds transfers) between listed subsidiaries and unlisted state-owned parent companies. This measure likely aimed to bolster investors’ confidence that they were buying more of a real asset and less of a shell company, which in turn would increase securitized assets’ potential value.

Then, in 2007, the Commission of Science, Technology, and Industry for National Defense (“COSTIND”) promulgated five guidelines to help defense industries prepare to securitize some of their assets. The policies sought to stimulate three core things: (1) allow non-public capital to enter the defense industry, (2) encourage the defense industry to make increased use of capital markets, and (3) encourage the defense industry to diversify investments and ownership. This improved environment for capital market investment likely accelerated the IPOs of CSSC in 2007 and CSIC in 2009. Soon thereafter, CSIC issued its first bonds in 2008, and CSSC quickly followed in 2009. From 2008 to 2011, CSSC issued $1.39 billion in bonds, and CSIC issued $2.93 billion.

Dissecting China’s Largest Military Shipbuilding Securitization to Date

To give readers a more concrete sense for what a Chinese defense enterprise asset injection looks like in practice, Exhibit 2 breaks down the process CSIC went through in late 2013 and early 2014 to inject assets into its listed arm. First, the company sold 8.48 billion RMB (approximately $1.4 billion) worth of shares in a private placement. Second, it took 3.28 billion RMB (39 percent of the total raised) and devoted it to asset acquisitions. Finally, the company then injected the assets acquired from the state-owned parent company into the listed arm. CSIC stated that “the deal will expand the financing channels for China’s military defense. It would also herald an overall securitization of China’s military assets.”

Exhibit 2: Anatomy of CSIC’s USD $1.4 Billion Asset Injection Deal
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Source: Company Reports, Chinese Media, Author’s Analysis

The asset injection brought two of CSIC’s three primary military ship construction assets—Wuchang Shipbuilding and Dalian Shipbuilding—into its listed arm (along with eight other assets). This confers more direct access to investors, especially those outside China. The injection also had a very positive effect on CSIC Limited’s rapidly depleting orderbook, as it brought more military business to the listed company. Indeed, China Securities Net reports that at the end of June 2014, CSIC Limited derived nearly 19 percent of its revenue from military goods (up from roughly 8 percent a year prior) and that the listed company’s military and marine engineering orderbook was 68 percent larger than a year prior.

Accessing Military Shipyard Assets Via Hong Kong

In November 2014, Guangzhou Shipyard International (“GSI”) purchased Huangpu Wenchong Shipbuilding from the CSSC parent company for 4.35 billion RMB, paying for the deal by issuing 271.6 million shares of stock to the parent and the balance in cash. Huangpu Wenchong is one of China’s key surface warship builders and has launched nearly 20 warships and large Coast Guard vessels in the past two years, including Type 054A frigates and Type 056 corvettes.

The Huangpu Wenchong asset injection opens a new, unique capital channel for investors interested in gaining exposure to the story of China’s naval modernization. This is because GSI is traded on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, and is therefore much more accessible to foreign investors than CSIC and CSSC’s listed arms, which trade in Shanghai. GSI’s ability to access the A-Share domestic markets in China and the more foreign investor-oriented H-Share market in Hong Kong may turn out to be a major strategic advantage for raising capital.

CSSC to date has securitized a smaller portion of its asset base than CSIC has. However, GSI’s statement to the Hong Kong Exchange disclosing the Huangpu Wenchong deal suggests CSSC views greater securitization of its military shipbuilding assets as a core strategic priority that will help it “…enhance protection for military construction assignments through means such as financing from the listing platform, so as to exert the supporting function of the capital markets towards the development and growth of military enterprises.”

CSSC management’s decision to inject assets into a vehicle traded in Hong Kong strongly suggests that China wants to make its military-industrial complex more accessible to potential investors from around the globe. If non-PRC investors meaningfully buy into GSI, we would expect this to drive CSSC to make future injection assets available on the Hong Kong exchange as well.

Who Is Buying Shares So Far?

The companies disclose their 10 largest stockholders and the percentage of the enterprise’s shares that those parties own. For CSIC Ltd., as of 3Q2014, approximately 2/3 of shares are owned by strategic investors, led by the CSIC state-owned parent, which controls approximately 45 percent of shares (Exhibit 3). Roughly 70 percent of CSSC Holding’s shares reside with strategic investors. For both CSIC Ltd. and CSSC Holdings, the 30-33 percent of shares not held by the parent company or large strategic investors such as life insurance companies, banks, and steelmakers are the “free float” that at least in theory can be purchased by private investors in China or by foreigners qualified to trade in Shanghai.

Exhibit 3: Shareholding Structures of CSIC Ltd. and CSSC Holdings

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Percentage of total shares

Source: Company Reports, Authors’ Estimates

To the best of our knowledge, CSSC and CSIC do not publish the identities of initial buyers of their debt issuances or private placements of equity (such as those which CSIC and Guangzhou Shipyard International have used to fund asset injections). There also does not appear to be much data on how the companies’ bonds have traded on the secondary (or retail) market. Some economists analyzing China’s corporate bond market overall have concluded that secondary trading activity is limited because while private investors can, in theory, purchase corporate debt, commercial banks who initially purchase the debt tend to “hoard” it. At present, CSSC and CSIC’s debt ownership is likely concentrated between a relatively small number (perhaps 25-50) strategic investors dominated by banks and insurance companies.

Strategic Outlook and Implications

Further securitization will likely boost the volumes of capital CSIC and CSSC can raise. The companies’ listed arms have already proven to be a formidable fundraising force. Allowing investors to gain exposure to more of the companies’ prime assets will likely enhance domestic and foreign investors’ appetite for debt and equity issuances. A key question here is, “what assets might be injected into listed companies next?” One CITIC Securities analysis views research institutes within CSIC and CSSC as a possible next target. However, the government’s priorities and those of investors diverge on the research institute question. The government wants to get these institutes off the official balance sheet, while investors seek productive assets likely to yield better economic returns.

Deals that inject shipbuilding assets such as Hudong Zhonghua and Jiangnan Shipbuilding into publicly traded entities are much more plausible. The GSI/Huangpu Wenchong transaction in November 2014 marked a turning point in the relationship between China’s state shipbuilders and the ability to raise money through capital markets specifically for military modernization. Former CSSC chairman Hu Wenming noted that this deal “broke through regulatory restrictions and opened the pathway to securitization for the military product and general assembly industry or rather for security assets.” He expects that many more military industrial assets will be securitized.

The shipbuilders’ greater access to the domestic and global capital markets will not replace defense budget funding, but can augment it to a degree that will facilitate significant additional naval modernization activity without a commensurate burden on the national balance sheet. The issues analyzed here therefore have important political and national security implications.

Consider some plausible scenarios that could arise as China’s shipbuilders more market-based sources of funding, including foreign investors:

How would policymakers react if U.S.-domiciled investors purchased a major debt issue by CSSC Holdings or CSIC Limited that was in part earmarked to upgrade military ship production capabilities?
What if a European or Canadian pension fund participated in such a transaction?
What if investment banks with major U.S. ties helped CSSC or CSIC raise funds that, due to the fungibility of money, effectively helped underwrite part of China’s naval buildup?
As China’s defense enterprises pursue additional resources from the capital markets, international investors will also likely seek to buy into deals, as opposed to simply brokering them. For example, major global investment banks Barclays, Société Générale, and ANZ facilitated a 500 million euro bond sale by CSSC Holdings in February 2015.

China’s equity markets are currently in a period of significant uncertainty, as Beijing tries to find its feet after heavy state involvement failed to quell two major stock market downdrafts over the past six weeks. That said, Chinese military shipyard assets will very likely be attractive to investors because China’s naval hardware budget is poised to continue growing strongly for at least 5-7 more years. Moreover, the military yards get the most skilled staff and have a virtual monopoly on supplying warships, subs, and parts to the world’s aspiring naval superpower.

China’s naval buildup is now coming to a stock exchange near you. It is very plausible that investment transactions with Chinese shipbuilders which pass formal legal muster may in fact still engender substantial diplomatic and security consequences. For this reason, China’s military shipbuilders’ turn to the capital markets deserves serious and prompt discussion in Washington, Tokyo, Canberra, Seoul, Singapore, and other capitals.

Gabe Collins is the co-founder of China SignPost and a former commodity investment analyst and research fellow in the US Naval War College’s Maritime Studies Institute.
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Mensaje por szasi Enero 30th 2016, 23:02

How Much Do China’s Warships Actually Cost?
Our author offers an estimate, focusing on the Type 054A (Jiangkai-II) frigate.

By Gabe Collins
June 18, 2015
2.4k 4 42
What does it actually cost Chinese naval shipyards to build major warships? Chinese sources do not disclose actual or estimated warship and submarine production costs, so it falls on external analysts to generate this important dataset. Quantifying warship production costs bolsters our understanding of how China’s defense budget actually translates into hardware and capabilities.

This analysis focuses on the Type 054A (NATO codename: Jiangkai-II) frigate, for three primary reasons. First, it is China’s most prolifically produced large, modern major surface combatant. Second, it has been series produced for several years. Third, it is the cornerstone of the PLAN’s surface warfare capabilities at present and has actually seen sustained (and ongoing) operational deployments.

Readers should note that this is a “Beta Version” estimate of the Type 054A’s production costs. It is well-developed, but will almost certainly evolve as more participants contribute their insights. I share my core calculations and assumptions in order to provide a springboard for other analysts and hopefully catalyze a broader discussion that advances our knowledge of China’s naval-industrial complex.

Costs by Segment

This author estimates that the Type 054A currently costs a total of approximately $348 million per vessel to build and fit out (Exhibit 1). This estimate derives from breaking the ship down by its main systems categories (hull and equipment, propulsion/power transmission, weapons, and electronics) and calculating their respective costs, as well as the cost of the labor needed to assemble the ship into a finished product. The estimate relies heavily on valuation by analogy in many cases because Chinese sources simply do not disclose cost information on the vast majority of the inputs used in warships being built in China. As such, the figure as stands is conservative and may overestimate the construction and equipment costs.

Exhibit 1: Type 054A Cost Breakdown

Million USD, Percentage of total estimated ship cost (numbers rounded)


Source: Alibaba, U.S. Navy, Local and Foreign Media Sources, Author’s Analysis

The next section elaborates sequentially on the Type 054A’s cost structure, with the areas that contribute the most to final ship cost addressed first.

Electronics: $102 million, 29 percent. Chinese military-grade electronics makers disclose little or no information on the unit costs of systems they produce for the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). Moreover, the PLA does not publish detailed budgets such as those commonplace in US DoD. As such, this analysis uses a valuation by analogy approach to estimate the likely cost of the ship’s main electronics systems. The ship’s ZKJ-4B/6 combat data system is said to be based on Thompson CSF’s Tavitac. The Naval Institute Guide to World Naval Weapons Systems, 1997-1998 estimated that the Tavitac accounted for less than 5 percent of the final cost of the French Lafayette frigate, which based on the US$466 million original unit cost of the six Lafayette-class frigates (“Kang Ding”) purchased by Taiwan in 1992, suggests Tavitac costs approximately US$20 million. Given the systems’ stated similarity, it is reasonable to value the ZKJ-4B/6 at US$20 million per unit.

The Type 382 3D search radar likely costs approximately $15 million per unit based on the price of the AMD radar system Saab sold to Australia for its Canberra-class LHD and the fact that Chinese radar makers likely have not yet attained the experience and efficiency level of Saab’s production process. The Type 054A’s sonar suite likely costs around $20 million, based on the unit cost of the Royal Navy’s Sonar 2087 and the procurement requirements the U.S. Navy used in 2005 when specifying the characteristics of a new towed sonar array. Finally, the author estimates that the Type 054A’s machinery control system costs $15 million, based on the fact that Northrup Grumman has contracted to supply the much larger LHA-7 amphibious assault ship’s machinery control system at a cost of $50.6 million. The author acknowledges that shipboard electronics costs may in fact be lower, although no data presently known to him supports a lower cost.

Weapons: $84 million, 24 percent. The most expensive part of the Type 054A’s weapons suite is likely the vertical launching system cells. An 8-cell module from the US Mk 41 VLS system – the most widely used in the world – costs around $15 million. The Type 054A has 32 total VLS cells and the author discounts the 8-cell module cost to $10 million, making the system cost an estimated $40 million. The second most expensive component of the Type 054A’s armament are its two Type 730 close in weapon systems (“CIWS”), which likely cost around $11 million for both. The U.S. Navy’s Phalanx Block 1B CIWS costs $5.6 million per unit, and the author believes this is a reasonable proxy for the Type 730 CIWS cost because although the Chinese gun is a larger caliber and the system is physically larger, the assembly and materials costs are likely substantially lower.

Labor: $75 million, 22 percent. While data is somewhat scarce, building and commissioning a frigate-sized warship of between 3,000 and 4,000 tons displacement appears to require between 2.5 million man hours (U.S. FFG-7) and 10.8 million man hours (India Godavari-class) of labor. The author estimates that at present, Chinese military shipyards, which can afford a higher degree of labor intensity than Western yards due to a large labor force, but which are also almost certainly substantially more efficient than Indian yards, require around 3.2 million man hours to build and commission a Type 054A frigate. Chinese yards’ average labor cost is based on the 2013 labor expenditures of Jiangsu Rongsheng, a top private shipbuilder, which are then increased by 25 percent to reflect the premium paid for special skill sets required for shipbuilding work done to naval specifications.

Hull and equipment: $45 million, 13 percent. This cost estimate is based on the fact that around one-third of the light ship weight of surface combatants such as the Type 054A typically consists of metals – primarily steel, along with lesser quantities of high-grade alloys and wiring and pipes. The author then multiplied the 1,200 metric tons of steel likely required for a ship the size of the Type 054A by an average cost of $2,000/metric tons for high quality steel such as that used in warships. The remainder of the cost comes from composite materials and radar absorbent materials, whose cost data was obtained from similar items sold on and from the cost of applying radar absorbent coatings to frigate-sized U.S. warships, as disclosed by the Chicago Tribune (admittedly a bit dated as it is 1993-vintage). Cost data for paint, piping, pumps, valves, and wiring also come from similar Chinese-made items advertised for sale on as well as the London Metals Exchange spot price for copper, the underlying component of wiring, and likely at least part of the pipe alloys.

Propulsion: $32 million, 9 percent. The biggest share of the Type 054A’s propulsion costs come from its four Pielstick/Shaanxi PA6 diesel engines. At least one trading company offers Pielstick engines for sale at between $1and $10 million apiece. This estimate uses the mid-range price of $5 million per engine to reflect the size of the engine and the premium quality needed for a military application. The balance of the estimated cost reflects the gearbox, drive shafts, steering gear, and props.

Miscellaneous costs: $10 million, 3 percent. This category is a “catchall” that helps the overall estimate account for bits and pieces that might have been overlooked in the process of estimating each ship segment’s cost.

Conclusion and Strategic Implications

The $348 million unit cost estimate dovetails reasonably well with the price at which China offered Type 054 frigates to Thailand in early 2013. Thailand’s Navy sought to spend $1 billion on new frigates and China reportedly offered three Type 054s at that price. China’s offer of ships at an effective price of $333 million each suggests that with higher international-level profit margins built in, the actual delivered ship cost is likely between $350 million and $375 million per vessel. In addition, the imported ships would likely cost less to build given that they are not as comprehensively capable as the Type 054As delivered to the PLAN.

If the Type 054A’s actual construction cost falls into this range, and the shipbuilders are allowed a five percent “profit” margin for ship deliveries to the PLAN, the delivered ship price would be $365 million. In procurement terms, this would offer the PLAN a significant value relative to the cost of foreign-sourced vessels. For instance, French shipbuilder DCNS has sold a FREMM class frigate to Morocco for $676 million and Germany’s first four F125 frigates are priced at $740 million apiece.

Military hardware spending always incurs an opportunity cost, since even a large and growing economy like China’s still has a finite amount of resources that can realistically be devoted to military expenditures. To put the cost of purchasing one Type 054A at $365 million into perspective, consider that the ship uses funds equal to each of the following alternative expenditures, all of which are in demand in various branches of the PLA:

Thirteen J-10 fighter aircraft.
Ten SU-30K strike fighters.
177.5 million gallons of jet fuel for training – enough fuel to allow each of China’s 97 SU-30 fighters to be fully loaded with fuel 600 times apiece.
The annual salaries of nearly 64,000 junior PLA officers.
A navy ultimately sails on the strength of the national treasury. In that respect, the PLAN increasingly gets a significant “bang for its buck” with ship acquisition costs that are much lower than those of other major Asia-Pacific naval powers. The analytical community now has the opportunity to create a unique warship cost dataset that will unlock powerful new avenues of inquiry into China’s naval modernization and defense spending.

Gabe Collins is the co-founder of China SignPost and a former commodity investment analyst and research fellow in the US Naval War College’s Maritime Studies Institute.
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Mensaje por szasi Enero 30th 2016, 23:04

The Big Story Behind China’s New Military Strategy
China is becoming “more willing and able” to stake and defend its interests overseas.

By Alexander Sullivan and Andrew S. Erickson
June 05, 2015
2.0k 16 91
As China reemerges as one of the globe’s leading powers, just what type of actor it will be on the world stage has become a subject of intense debate among China watchers and the broader public. With tensions rising to what one eminent China scholar has called a “tipping point” in U.S.-China relations, the Chinese government released its first-ever white paper on military strategy just before the fourteenth annual Shangri-La Dialogue was held in Singapore this past weekend. Since 2012, Beijing has indeed become more assertive in proximate waters, and the paper underscores determination to strengthen Chinese “strategic management of the sea.” Attention has rightly focused on expressions of Chinese resolve with respect to current points of contention such as China’s land reclamation on disputed features in the South China Sea. Most recently – following Pentagon predictions – China’s Coast Guard appears to be increasing activity near Luconia Shoals, roughly 60 miles north of Borneo in Malaysia’s exclusive economic zone. But the strategic thinking just published also reflects a much larger story of profound changes in Chinese foreign policy.

The story itself is relatively simple: China’s participation in globalization has catalyzed an irreversible explosion of overseas interests. It has also afforded China greater resources and capabilities with which to advance and defend them. This combination has drawn China inexorably outward to become “more willing and able” – that is, active in international security affairs. In fact in many ways, China’s first-ever defense white paper on strategy is official policy catching up to reality. Because this trend is likely only to intensify, U.S. scholars and policymakers must understand it if they are to shape policies that can seize the benefits and manage the challenges stemming from China’s new normal of increasing international security activism.

In particular, “China’s Military Strategy” publicly articulates innovations in China’s national security thinking in three key areas: a new understanding of the political framework for military force, enhanced security partnerships, and global power projection capabilities for the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). Because the drivers for this strategy are baked into globalization, several of these ideas predate the current administration, dating to Hu Jintao’s 2004 call for “new historic missions”; but they are ratified and given sharper emphasis here. For this reason, they are likely also to outlast Chinese President Xi Jinping’s tenure in office. Taken together, this strategy augurs a China that will be much more active globally on security issues.

New Global Scope

Politically, the white paper asserts a new global scope for China’s security interests and new flexibility in protecting them. We are told that, “the national security issues facing China encompass far more subjects, extend over a greater range, and cover a longer time span that at any time in the country’s history.” Beijing is cluing domestic and international audiences into the new, open-ended baseline for its involvement in security affairs, which reflects the reality of its global economic and political interests.

Specific emphasis is placed on the security of access to overseas energy and resources, the people and infrastructure that support that access, and the sea lanes that those raw materials traverse. The strategy calls for China to participate in “jointly securing international [sea lines of communication].” This is eminently sensible for a country that, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, imports nearly 60 percent of its oil – a proportion that has doubled since the year 2000 and which is only expected to grow in coming decades.

In order to safeguard these interests, China will take a “holistic view of national security.” One way to interpret this vague expression is that interests will now potentially override old ideologies such as doctrinaire opposition to “interference in the domestic affairs of other countries.” Notably, this is the first time a Chinese defense white paper has made no reference to the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, the litany of historical PRC dogmas in which noninterference and other self-imposed restrictions are enshrined.

In practice, over the past decade China has already engaged in multiple activities that exceed the bounds of traditional non-interference, including political mediation, unilateral and multilateral economic sanctions, and deployments of its security forces in other countries. It has involved itself in one way or another in Sudan, South Sudan, Libya, Syria, Iran, Myanmar, North Korea, and other places. In recent months alone, Chinese has dispatched naval vessels into Yemen’s territorial waters to evacuate Chinese nationals from escalating chaos and hosted peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban in China. Official policy is catching up to deep structural changes and the improvisations they have demanded.

The so-called “holistic view of national security” encompasses both traditional and nontraditional security, and China states unequivocally its intention to address threats occurring well beyond its borders, such as piracy, peacekeeping, disaster response, and terrorism. China’s approach to these issues will emphasize international cooperation of the kind demonstrated by its naval deployments to the Gulf of Aden for antipiracy operations beginning in 2008. Overall, China promises to “shoulder more international responsibilities and obligations, provide more public security goods, and contribute more to world peace and common development.”

Military Partnerships

Indeed, the second major innovation in China’s new strategy is the deep recognition that China cannot operate globally without help from other countries. This strategy document, particularly compared with previous defense white papers, envisions robust strategic and operational military partnerships with the United States, Russia, and other nations spanning Europe, Africa, and the Asia-Pacific. There are also aspirations to “establish fair and effective collective security mechanisms,” continue increasing China’s voice in multilateral security dialogues, and participate more in cooperative security actions.

Beyond reinforcing the message of China’s peaceful rise, deeper cooperation provides much-needed operational experience for the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in the form of joint exercises or multilateral deployments, and may provide access to advanced technology, training, or even access arrangements to facilitate distant operations, such as the recently reported potential basing agreement with Djibouti.

Again, in this case the emphasis on security ties reflects the reality that China – hungry for friends following its relative isolation prior to the 2000s – has in recent years deepened its defense relationships worldwide. Beijing now has “strategic partnerships” or similar umbrella ties with nearly 60 countries across the globe, and under these frameworks defense diplomacy with key states has risen dramatically. PLA Navy (PLAN) ships now routinely visit ports around Asia, the Indian Ocean region, the Middle East, and the coast of East Africa. The PLA has also instituted joint exercises with Russia, Pakistan, and Singapore, and routinely seeks additional opportunities. Commercial interests also support deepened ties: China is now the world’s third-leading exporter of arms, and is selling ever more sophisticated systems.

In many cases, China will be seeking to strengthen ties with countries that already enjoy robust security cooperation with the United States, such as Saudi Arabia. Yet the pursuit of partners may also bring China into closer alignment with states like Iran and Russia, whose relationship with Washington is more fractious. Additional points of strategic interaction create the potential for both increased cooperation and competition.

Projecting Power

In its most forward-leaning innovation, “China’s Military Strategy” also signals that Beijing will put steel behind its willingness to do more and court new partners. China intends to build military forces that are capable of limited power projection across domains. The headline for this modernization program is a move from “near seas defense” to “the combination of ‘near seas defense’ and ‘far seas protection’,” which suggests the need to develop a limited blue water navy.

Simultaneously, China has set other crucial goals in the air and other domains. Indeed, the PLA has already made headway across nearly all key determinants of expeditionary military power and has much room to grow if, as this strategy suggests, resources will continue to flow. A two-year study from the Center for a New American Security that the authors of this piece helped write analyzed the PLA’s inchoate power projection in five key areas: force projection, sustainment, capacity, command and control, and force protection. Each is a necessary but not sufficient condition for effective use of military power far away from one’s shores. China’s new strategy calls out each category as a specific goal across different domains.

Force projection is a broad term in military jargon, but here it means expeditionary capabilities: naval and air platforms that can operate at and deliver effects over long ranges and other capabilities in rangeless domains like cyberspace. Many visible examples of this trend, especially China’s developing aircraft carrier program, have filled headlines in recent years. The strategy aims for the PLAN to “build a combined, multi-functional and efficient marine combat force structure” for use on the high seas. The PLA Air Force (PLAAF) aims to build capabilities for “air strike,” “airborne operations,” “strategic projection,” and other types of expeditionary airpower. The PLA missile forces, known as the Second Artillery Force, will also work toward “medium- and long-range precision strikes.” Even the lumbering PLA Army has set its sights on “multi-dimensional, trans-theater, multi-functional” operations. In many cases, platforms that can perform these missions are already in development or production.

Sustainment is the provision of strategic lift, logistics, and personnel services required to maintain operations. The new strategy states that “China’s armed forces will deepen logistics reform in relevant policies, institutions and support forces, and optimize strategic logistics deployment,” including “comprehensive support” for the navy and air force, “sustainable [Army] operations,” and mobility across the board. The PLAN’s experience operating far afield in the Gulf of Aden has made the larger institution keenly aware of the need for a global logistics infrastructure. It is building the platforms – plus, as mentioned above, potential foreign facility access agreements – to realize one.

Capacity denotes the sophistication and scale at which a military can operate. It is undergirded by both requisite amounts of human and material assets and the organizational processes to generate military power effectively. In the past decade, China has done a remarkable job of churning out increasingly sophisticated weapons: According to the Office of Naval Intelligence, “During 2014 alone, more than 60 naval ships and craft were laid down, launched, or commissioned, with a similar number expected through the end of 2015.” Sustaining and even increasing this pace across the services, and ensuring effective management of assets across their life cycles, requires better strategic management. Thus, the PLA will “optimize the functions and institutions of the [Central Military Commission] and the general headquarters/departments, improve the leadership and management system of the services and arms, and adhere to demand-based planning and plan-based resource allocation.” Many of these organizational reforms will be politically difficult, but the inclusion of these benchmarks in a public document displays some level of confidence by the top leadership.

Command and control (C2) comprises the facilities, equipment, communications, procedures, and personnel essential to a commander for planning, directing, and controlling operations. The anti-access/area denial capabilities that the Pentagon now confronts in the Western Pacific include many C2 architectures that can be usefully developed further and applied to extended operations. The new strategy doubles down on the “further exploration and more efficient utilization of information resources,” especially with space-based satellites and cyber capabilities. As important as technology are professional military personnel who can use those tools to the greatest effect. China will thus “perfect the system for military human resources,” “[enhance] realistic military training,” and make efforts to develop strategic leaders that can adapt to the constantly shifting demands of military operations. Overall, it aims to “gradually establish an integrated joint operational system in which all elements are seamlessly linked and various operational platforms perform independently and in coordination.”

Finally, force protection refers to preventive measures taken to mitigate hostile actions against personnel, resources, facilities, and critical information. Operating far from one’s shores carries with it myriad vulnerabilities; this strategy recognizes those shortfalls and aims to remedy them. Naval and air modernization plans refer to “comprehensive defense” as a key priority, and indeed the PLAN already operates sophisticated Luyang-II and –III area air defense destroyers and is working to mitigate its traditional Achilles’ heel in open-ocean anti-submarine warfare, both key parts of force protection at sea.

The PLA will continue to face severe obstacles in nearly all of these areas, but should it make progress on the ambitions laid out in this strategy – many of which are already in motion – it will have the building blocks of a serious expeditionary military force. Furthermore, given the inexorable growth of its overseas interests, barring a drastic domestic crisis China is unlikely to stop at “far seas protection.”

We and our colleagues assess that by 2030 the PLA will have achieved “limited expeditionary” status. While by no means approaching the capabilities of the U.S. Navy to engage in high-intensity operations globally, such a force could conduct a range of missions across the globe, to include: major humanitarian assistance/disaster relief, contested noncombatant evacuation operations, securing high-value assets such as North Korean nuclear weapons, defense of critical sea lanes, counterterrorism strikes, and limited stabilization operations.

New Normal

“China’s Military Strategy” is an ambitious vision for greater involvement in global security affairs commensurate with China’s renewed great power status and now-indelible interests on every continent. Absent a major conflict in Asia or discontinuous change in China itself, this is the new normal. Beijing is already working toward an expeditionary military and playing an active role in security issues beyond historically significant concerns such as Taiwan or the near seas.

Fortunately, this more willing and able Beijing does not demand a wholesale rethink of the United States’ decades-old China policy, but merely an expanded, refined perspective. A global China will both present new opportunities for cooperation and accentuate areas of competition. The United States thus needs to widen the aperture of its three-pillar approach to China – engagement, shaping, and balancing – to account for the new scale and scope of China’s international security activism. With “China’s Military Strategy,” Beijing has published its part of the playbook; Washington must now formulate its response before the game is in full swing.

Alexander Sullivan is an Associate Fellow in the Asia-Pacific Security Program at the Center for a New American Security and a prospective Ph.D. student in political science at Georgetown University. Dr. Andrew S. Erickson is an Associate Professor in the Strategic Research Department at the U.S. Naval War College. For more on this topic, see the CNAS report.
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Revelations on China’s Maritime Modernization
The U.S. Office of Naval Intelligence offers a wealth of new information on the PLA Navy.

By Andrew S. Erickson
April 16, 2015
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To its first unclassified report on China’s navy in six years, the U.S. Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) has just added sophisticated posters detailing Chinese ships and aircraft, equipment, and leadership structure. ONI’s main document, “The PLA Navy: New Capabilities and Missions for the 21st Century,” already offers a cornucopia of new insights and highly vetted data points. But it is with the supplementary reference materials that the Suitland, MD-based agency is going where no publicly released U.S. government report has ever gone before. This article reviews key findings from ONI’s latest set of publications and assesses their significance.

Unprecedented Offerings

Perhaps most exciting, for the first time ever, ONI is making available publicly 148 carefully labeled silhouettes and 89 photos of China’s myriad People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) and maritime law enforcement ships and aircraft. This enables systematic open source analysis to a degree simply impossible before.

A leadership structure chart with details on the top thirty-one individuals in the PLAN’s chain of command completes the highly informative set. It offers both grades and ranks, highlights leaders’ distinguishing characteristics, acknowledges frankly where key data remain ambiguous or unavailable, and even offers projections concerning future career progression (or lack thereof). It describes such vital bodies as the all-important Navy Party Standing Committee, or “Navy Politburo,” the PLAN’s senior-most decision-making organ.

Principal Findings

ONI makes it clear that China’s maritime forces are progressing steadily across the board, although they remain limited in important respects. With regard to the PLAN specifically, “trends over the last few years reflect an unambiguous shift in the frequency, complexity, and distance of Chinese naval operations.” Distant seas training and activities have become “the new norm.” Many drills emphasize a “complex electromagnetic environment.” Examples of major new exercises include the October 2013 three-fleet Maneuver-5 in the Philippine Sea – the PLAN’s largest open-ocean exercise yet. New operations include China’s first Indian Ocean submarine deployment in 2013. Growing overseas interests, particularly concerning energy, and sea lane security have “generated greater discussion on the potential of overseas naval bases.” While doctrine has clearly evolved, major remaining limitations persist in joint professional military education and operations.

ONI judges reasonably that Taiwan and the Near Seas (Yellow, East, and South China Seas) remain the “primary focus” of Chinese naval modernization, and that “developing the capabilities to compel reunification will remain a central priority in the years ahead.” Here the otherwise excellent report makes a small but symbolic error, referring to these as “China’s ‘near seas.” But as international waters, they do not belong to China, or any other nation – that is a core tenet of U.S. policy, and that of many other states and international organizations.

Almost twenty years after the 1995-96 Taiwan Strait crisis, “China has closed some of the capability gaps—including air defense and long-range maritime strikes—that would support a number of Taiwan-related campaigns.” While reunification with Taiwan remains the most important Chinese Near Seas objective, the report also highlights territorial disputes with Japan (Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands) and the Philippines (Scarborough Reef and Second Thomas Shoal).

Dennis Blasko states that the relatively-modest 13 percent post-2009 growth in the number of submarines, major surface combatants, amphibious ships, and missile patrol craft; as well as the nature of ships produced; suggests continued Near Seas focus. “The introduction of the Type 056 corvette since 2009 emphasizes the continuing importance of Near Seas operations, while allowing the modern destroyers and frigates to perform more distant seas missions,” he told this author. “Both the Type 056 and Type 022 missile catamaran would be best utilized in a People’s War at Sea scenario near China, not on the distant seas. No other single type of ship has been built to match the numbers of these two types. That should say something by itself.”

Based on U.S. policies and actions, particularly in the 1990s, however, Chinese planners assume that deterring or countering American intervention could be a critical component of any major effort to realize outstanding Chinese island or maritime claims with force. To further these objectives while attempting to reduce the likelihood of effective U.S. intervention, Beijing for nearly two decades has emphasized development of capabilities to support “non-contact warfare,” in which platforms and weapons support “long-range, precision strikes from outside an enemy’s ‘defended zone’.” Ballistic and cruise missiles such as the YJ-18 outfitted on increasingly-advanced Chinese submarines and the Luyang III (Type 052D) area air-defense destroyer – like other systems ONI documents extensively – constitute strong evidence of precisely such an approach.

ONI divides Chinese capabilities to counter intervention into three major “defensive layers.” From 540 to 1,000 nautical miles (nm) from its coast, China would employ anti-ship ballistic missiles (ASBMs) and submarines. From a distance of 270-540 nm, China would employ submarines and air assets. From its coast out to 270 nm, China would employ surface and air assets, submarines, and coastal defense cruise missiles (CDCMs).

Of course, Beijing does not seek war. It would much prefer to further its claims in peacetime. To this end, likely motivated in part by Beijing’s growing confidence in their capabilities, “China’s Navy, Coast Guard, and Chinese economic actors,” such as China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) and its HYSY-981 oil rig, “are increasingly visible throughout the region and are increasingly proactive in asserting Beijing’s maritime claims, even when directly challenged by other claimants’ naval and Coast Guard assets.” China Coast Guard (CCG) assets can respond rapidly to perceived challenges to Chinese claims, but are typically either lightly armed or unarmed. “China has also utilized civilian fishing vessels to advance its maritime objectives,” ONI observes. “Coordinating the activities of these distinct organizations is an ongoing challenge that has important implications for China and for the region.”

As a kinetic maritime force of last resort, then, the PLAN “provides an important security guarantee with the means to intimidate smaller claimants and deter larger ones,” ONI adds. “Friction between China and its neighbors appears increasingly likely as Beijing seeks to deter rival activities and assert its own claimed rights and interests.” In crisis or conflict, China’s navy “could lead an amphibious campaign to seize key disputed island features or conduct blockade or sea lines of communication (SLOC) interdiction campaigns to secure strategic operating areas.”

The South China Sea contains Beijing’s broadest and most numerous claims, although China “has never published the coordinates of [its Nine-Dash Line or] declared what rights it purports to enjoy in this area.” To undergird both peacetime and wartime capabilities there, “Throughout 2014, China reclaimed hundreds of acres of land at the seven [Spratly] features it occupies and appears to be building much larger facilities that could eventually support both maritime law enforcement and naval operations.” While other claimants have built small outposts on features they occupy and have engaged in minor island construction and augmentation, in a matter of months China has rapidly exceeded their combined activities and acted on a scale that they cannot match even collectively.

As with many strategic and geopolitical aspects of Chinese maritime development, ONI does not speculate on what has motivated Beijing’s timing. Possible factors include a desire to maximize “facts in the water” in China’s favor before an arbitral Tribunal issues a ruling on Sino-Philippine territorial disputes in the South China Sea; and a sense that the Obama Administration will not push back significantly, whereas the next U.S. president might seek to do so. “China is accelerating its expansionist agenda and changing the status quo to actualize its nine-dash line claim and to control nearly the entire South China Sea before…the handing down of a decision of the arbitral tribunal on the Philippine submission,” charges Philippine Foreign Minister Albert del Rosario. Chinese government-connected sources with whom the author has spoken state that Beijing is particularly concerned about the prospect of Hillary Clinton winning the White House.

Vast Maritime Order of Battle

As mentioned earlier, ONI’s single most distinctive contribution is its “China People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLA(N)) and Maritime Law Enforcement (MLE) 2015 Recognition and Identification Guide.” Accompanying detailed ship silhouettes are authoritative class names and breakdowns, ship dimensions, pennant numbers, and details of change in status (e.g., some older frigates have been decommissioned and transferred to Bangladesh). ONI’s “China Equipment” poster offers photos of PLAN surface combatants, submarines, fighters and bombers, maritime patrol aircraft, and UAVs; as well as CCG ships.

Thank goodness dedicated professionals are handling such a complex, thankless task! For specialists outside the U.S. government, this enables precise tallying of hull numbers and sophisticated comparisons that were previously impossible with any level of certainty. For everyone else, it offers a sense of the sheer scale and sophistication of Chinese (para)military maritime development, together with some interesting patterns, indications, and pitfalls.

Eighty-nine classes and sub-classes of PLAN vessels are detailed. MLE vessels are divided by organization, with the most classes of vessels, 47 of which are depicted, belonging to the CCG. ONI notes that all units are projected to adopt CCG names, pennant numbers, and livery markings this year, but consolidation initiated in 2013 remains incomplete. This provides concrete support for the meticulous qualitative analysis that Ryan Martinson of the U.S. Naval War College’s China Maritime Studies Institute (CMSI) has been publishing concerning CCG development. In November 2014, Martinson assessed that while coordination had improved considerably, copious evidence of “raw hybridity of the existing system” remained.

ONI likewise offers specifics of ship classes serving the two Ministry of Transport “dragons” not consolidated into the CCG: China Maritime Safety Administration (MSA/nine classes) and China Rescue Service (three classes). Also detailed: ships from the PLA Maritime Transport Units (MTU)/Border Defense Force (BDF), including those that have been patrolling the Mekong River in cooperation with other riparian neighbors since the horrific murder of Chinese sailors there in 2011. Several dozen smaller units, including those from MTU/BDF, and additional CCG and MSA units, are listed without visual depiction – otherwise the chart would require a microscope to interpret.

Hardware Specifics

ONI also addresses hardware improvements strengthening China’s maritime forces. China’s navy has narrowed the technological gap with advanced foreign counterparts. Procurement is increasingly indigenous and efficient, with the last major foreign delivery of a naval platform in 2006.

Increasingly advanced long-range ship-based air defense systems offer protection to ships sailing beyond range of land-based defenses. Luyang III-class (Type 052D)* destroyers are fitted with extended-range version of HHQ-9. 20+ Jiangkai-II-class (Type 054A) frigates are operational with the HHQ-16 vertically-launched ~20-40 nm-range system.

PLAN Aviation has made “great strides,” albeit from a low baseline. Its air-to-air missiles include the long-range PL-12. Ancient H-6 bombers have been upgraded yet again, with improved electronics and ability to carry up to four anti-ship cruise missiles (ASCMs) for strike versions; and some converted to tankers. China’s JH-7 fighter-bomber “can carry up to four ASCMs and two PL-5 or PL-8 short-range air-to-air missiles, providing considerable payload for maritime strike missions.”

To support operations further from shore, the PLAN is deploying increasing numbers of specialized aircraft for maritime patrol, airborne early warning, and surveillance. UAVs deployed include the BZK-005. Additionally, “China operates a growing array of reconnaissance satellites, which allow it to observe maritime activity anywhere on the earth.”

ONI’s balanced assessment also details enduring Chinese weaknesses. The PLAN’s sole aircraft carrier, Liaoning, “remains several years from becoming fully operational, and even then will offer relatively limited combat capability.” It remains unclear when future Chinese carriers will upgrade to catapults and more advanced aircraft than the currently-deployed J-15.

Welcome Contribution, Wish List

The numerous classes and sub-classes of Chinese naval and coast guard ships, greatly outnumbering American classes, suggests a hodgepodge with lingering older equipment and resulting logistics, maintenance, and training challenges. In contrast to the PLAN’s 89 classes and sub-classes of ships, the U.S. Navy has at most 27 – and that’s including the USS Constitution, in a class by itself as the only sailing ship. Together with required advancements in doctrine, personnel, and support systems for distant operations, China’s maritime forces remain a work in progress – even as they have come a long way in a short time.

Promoting common, systematic nomenclature, and baseline knowledge greatly facilitates understanding their evolution. Even the bird-watching community, whose efforts are not complicated by deliberate efforts to conceal avian origins or characteristics, benefits greatly from eBird, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s real-time online checklist program to synthesize and disseminate information. In the China security forces-watching community, the first challenge is to form a foundation of basic knowledge and minimize confusion by sharing findings using common terminology that people will actually use (as opposed to numerical designators for Chinese ship classes, which suffer from limited popularity in Western circles outside of diehard enthusiasts). As a leading organization in this effort, ONI has made an excellent contribution – and should be encouraged to do so more often in the future.

Specific examples will now diffuse across the Internet, into IHS Jane’s analyses, and into Congressional Research Service reports. The diesel submarine with a large sail – long-termed “Qing Type 043” on many hobbyist websites – has been designated Wuhan-class (Type 032), and the J-10A may also be called “Firebird A.” In this sense alone, ONI’s report and supporting materials will truly be a gift that keeps on giving.

That said, it is to be hoped that important issues not addressed in this report can be covered in future iterations:

Personnel below leadership level. China’s 2013 Defense White Paper credits the PLAN with 235,000, roughly 11 percent of PLA personnel. By contrast, around 325,000 U.S. Navy and 188,000 U.S. Marine Corps personnel constitute about 37 percent of all active-duty U.S. armed forces. As the PLA becomes increasingly externally focused and sheds ground force personnel, the PLAN may continue to grow, particularly its aviation units. Meanwhile, the CCG is undergoing a manning revolution of its own. Rank-and-file nature and capabilities will largely determine what China’s maritime forces are capable of achieving in practice. U.S. government reports would greatly benefit from moving beyond their traditional hardware focus to address “software” issues more fully, as RAND’s recent study did to great effect.
Land-based PLAN forces. Fleet CDCM and Electronic Countermeasures regiments, the South Sea Fleet air defense brigade, the two PLA Marine brigades, and the Special Operations Forces regiment – which makes major contributions to Gulf of Aden antipiracy – merit coverage.
Maritime Militia. This under-scrutinized force plays important roles in Chinese “maritime rights protection” operations. While ONI’s report is titled “The PLA Navy,” it rightly covers the CCG as well. That China’s Maritime Militia lacks a U.S. counterpart should not allow it to be ignored analytically.
Andrew S. Erickson is an Associate Professor in the Strategic Research Department at the U.S. Naval War College and a core founding member of the department’s China Maritime Studies Institute (CMSI). He serves on the Naval War College Review’s Editorial Board.

*Corrected from 054D. Thanks to the commenter below.
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