Archive for the ‘naval’ Category

Drama on China’s high seas casts U.S. as adversary

March 24, 2009

China’s flash of maritime muscle against a U.S. Navy ship this month has put its neighbors and America on watch against a bolder push to exert sovereignty in regional waters.

After a decade of increases in defense spending that averaged 16 percent a year, China has the military means to enforce claims in the energy-rich and trade-heavy South and East China Seas — and to challenge U.S. activities there, as it did March 8 when five Chinese vessels confronted the U.S.N.S. Impeccable.

By Dune Lawrence
Bloomberg

“China is looking to expand” its sphere of influence toward Guam and to the Philippines, says Tai Ming Cheung, a senior fellow at the University of California Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation in La Jolla, California. “The maritime arena is one of the most fluid and strategic for China in terms of how it’s going to defend and expand and protect its interests internationally.”

China’s move reflects its increasing international political and economic clout, which may lend it confidence in challenging the United States — and complicate America’s response. President Barack Obama needs China’s support in dealing with North Korea’s and Iran’s nuclear programs, not to mention its financial help in the form of continued purchases of U.S. government debt to support stimulus plans.

“There are much bigger factors at play, notably the need to keep China on board in cooperating in resolving the financial and economic crisis,” says Tim Huxley, executive director in Asia for the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies.
Just eight weeks after Mr. Obama’s inauguration, the Chinese boats crowded “dangerously” close to the American surveillance ship and demanded that it leave waters about 120 kilometers, or 75 miles, south of Hainan Island, China’s southernmost province, according to the U.S. Department of Defense, which sent a warship escort.

China said the United States broke international law by spying close to its shores. The United States said its activities were allowed under the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea.

For Shane Osborn, the dispute seemed all too familiar. Osborn piloted a U.S. Navy surveillance plane that collided with a Chinese fighter jet over the same area in April 2001 — just weeks after the start of George W. Bush’s first term as president. The Chinese pilot died. Mr. Osborn made an emergency landing on Hainan, a beach resort and military base, where the Chinese detained him and his crew for 11 days on the ground that they had entered China’s airspace without permission.

The Impeccable’s encounter “was a little bit like déjà vu,” says Mr. Osborn, 34, now state treasurer of Nebraska. While tension died down soon after the 2001 incident, Mr. Osborn says he is concerned that will not happen this time, and he is quick to point out how China’s military has changed in the past eight years.

“They’ve made large investments in upgrading their equipment, and it’s starting to show now,” he says. “They were just at the beginning of it” then.

Read the rest:
http://www.iht.com/articles/20
09/03/24/asia/letter.php

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Behind the U.S. and China At Sea Incident

March 12, 2009

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and China’s Foreign Minister, Yang Jiechi, both agreed on Wednesday that China and the U.S. should work to ensure that incidents like Sunday’s showdown in the South China Sea “do not happen again.” The incident in question involved several Chinese naval vessels harassing a U.S. surveillance ship off the island of Hainan. But despite the soothing words of the two top diplomats, it’s a safe bet that more such incidents can be expected in the future. The Pentagon was quick to note that the mariners aboard the U.S.N.S. Impeccable were civilians working for the Military Sealift Command, while the Chinese side stressed that the confrontation involved local fishing boats. The reality is that the incident occurred because both sides are preparing for war — “shaping the battlefield,” in military jargon — for a conflict that both hope will never happen.

Related:
China’s Love/Hate Relationship With The U.S.

From Time Magazine

The USNS Impeccable is a surveillance ship that uses sonar to ...
The USNS Impeccable. Five Chinese vessels shadowed and maneuvered dangerously close to the Navy surveillance ship, prompting a U.S. protest
US Navy / AP

The U.S. wants to know how well it can track Chinese submarines moving in and out of their new and growing base off Hainan. And the Chinese want to prevent the U.S. from gathering such intelligence. Both sides claim legal cover for their actions, which suggests that similar showdowns will occur in the future. But such events, far from home and with few if any independent eyewitnesses, can quickly escalate into more serious confrontations — as in the case of the Gulf of Tonkin “attack” by North Vietnamese patrol boats against a pair of U.S. Navy destroyers that President Lyndon B. Johnson used as a pretext to win congressional support for his war in Vietnam. (See pictures of China’s border war with Vietnam.)

The U.S.-China confrontation took place while the Impeccable was sailing 75 miles south of China’s newest sub base, Yulin, at the southern tip of Hainan. The U.S. vessel carries sophisticated surveillance equipment that was in use — Chinese sailors used poles in an effort to snag the Impeccable’s towed acoustic array sonars, which dangle beneath the vessel. The gear was most likely being used to try to detect the movements of Chinese subs in and out of Yulin, where Beijing’s new Shang-class nuclear-powered attack subs have recently been spotted.

Any intelligence gathered would be useful in a future showdown. Because U.S. aircraft carriers would play a vital role in any clash with China over Taiwan, being able to bottle up Chinese subs at their base — and measuring the range from their base within which U.S. technology could be used to hunt them before they escape into the open sea, where they would be much more difficult to detect — are key U.S. intelligence goals. The data collected by vessels like the Impeccable, along with detailed maps of the ocean floor near the Chinese base that would guide U.S. sub hunters, are funneled into massive U.S. Navy databases that are invaluable in time of war. (The Impeccable joined three U.S. carriers in a 2007 war game in the western Pacific.)

China’s sensitivity about Hainan and the surrounding area is well-known. It was in the same area, early in 2001, that a Chinese J-8 fighter plane collided with a U.S. Navy spy plane, killing the fighter pilot and damaging the Navy’s EP-3 so severely that it and its 24-member crew were forced to land on the island, where they were held for 11 days in a tense diplomatic standoff. For both that run-in and this recent one, China said the U.S. was operating illegally inside its 200-mile “exclusive economic zone,” based on the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea. China signed that treaty, but the U.S. did not.

Most legal experts say the U.S. was well within its rights to prowl where it was at the time it was approached by the Chinese armada on Sunday. “The U.S. was collecting undersea data that is related to war-fighting and is not banned by the treaty rules covering exploitation of resources in the economic zone,” writes John McCreary, a military-intelligence veteran of more than three decades, on his NightWatch blog. “The Chinese are just angry that the U.S. Navy can watch them.”

The Impeccable eventually sailed free of the Chinese fleet, which included, according to Pentagon officials, a Chinese navy intelligence-collection ship, a Bureau of Maritime Fisheries patrol vessel, a State Oceanographic Administration patrol vessel and two small Chinese-flagged trawlers. McCreary noted that the two fishing trawlers involved were about as “civilian” as the government-owned U.S. spy ship. (A Pentagon-produced story about the event said a “civilian crew mans the ship,” a half-truth that was repeated around the world by other media outlets. In fact, about half its roughly 50-member crew is military.) “The Chinese, like the North Koreans, the Indians and the Soviets, maintain positive control of fishing fleets which come under military supervision in a crisis,” McCreary said on NightWatch on Wednesday. “Fishing boats are built to military standards, usually have weapons mounts or fittings for depth charges and have military-approved communications.” Thankfully, this time at least, the Impeccable slipped through the net.

http://www.time.com/time/world/article
/0,8599,1884724,00.html?xid=rss-world

Because Impeccable is unarmed, we are told she was joined at sea this week by USS Chung Hoon.

File:USSChung-HoonDDG-93.jpg
USS Ching Hoon in her home port, Pearl Harbor

 China Making It Clear: Won’t Roll Over, Do Tricks for Barack, Hillary

Barack, Hillary: Moronic “Reset” Idea for Relations With Russia

Era of Obama, American Weakness Emboldens Russia, China, Iran, North Korea, Terrorists

 Russia Sees Obama, U.S., Others As “Weak,” “Naive”

China Making It Clear: Won’t Roll Over, Do Tricks for Barack, Hillary

March 12, 2009

By staging an international icedent at sea last weekend with the USNS Impeccable, China has made claer it will not roll over and do tricks for Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

China won’t play dead either: it is very much alive and holds the notes on most U.S. debt and soon to hold even more.

China and Russia have formed and alliance that will not abide any lip from the United States.

There may be “business as usual” in Washington DC and a nation awash in pork barrel spending thanks to earmarks: but China and Russia see a new era of American weakness and aim to make gains during this period….

Related:
Barack, Hillary: Moronic “Reset” Idea for Relations With Russia

Behind the U.S. and China At Sea Incident

 China Provoked Obama; Now Works To Smooth Situation: Why?
.
 China’s Love/Hate Relationship With The U.S.

Era of Obama, American Weakness Emboldens Russia, China, Iran, North Korea, Terrorists

 Russia Sees Obama, U.S., Others As “Weak,” “Naive”

***********************

Reuters
March 11, 2009

Chinese President Hu Jintao urged the military to “staunchly defend” national sovereignty in comments published days after a brief confrontation with a U.S. Navy ship.

Hu’s comments to People’s Liberation Army officers, published in the official People’s Daily Thursday, did not mention the PLA Navy’s run-in Sunday with a U.S. Navy survey ship off the Chinese island province of Hainan.

 

There have been no signs that Beijing wants to expand the dispute, in which China says the U.S. ship violated its sovereignty by monitoring waters in its exclusive economic zone.

Washington has said its ship, the Impeccable, was in international waters.

Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, visiting Washington, said Wednesday that relations were “at a new starting point and have important opportunities to develop,” the ministry website (http://www.fmprc.gov.cn) reported.

But Hu, who also serves as Communist Party chief and supreme military leader, made it clear that Beijing does not want to be seen as bowing to others.

“Vigorously advance modernisation of national defence and the military,” Hu said Wednesday, speaking to PLA officers attending the annual session of the Party-run parliament.

“Staunchly defend national sovereignty, security and territorial integrity and provide a powerful support and assurance for protecting national development interests and broad social stability.”

Read the rest:
http://uk.reuters.com/article/world
News/idUKTRE52B1VF20090312?fe
edType=RSS&feedName=worldNews

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Obama Reelection Effort Begins

Obama: Playing not to lose

Rising navy, assertiveness behind US-China flap

March 11, 2009

China’s weekend scrap with a U.S. Navy surveillance ship is drawing attention to a new submarine base that Beijing is using to strengthen its presence on the strategically vital South China Sea, which it claims as a whole.

By CHRISTOPHER BODEEN, Associated Press

For the second day running, the Foreign Ministry in Beijing fired back Wednesday at U.S. complaints over what the Pentagon called harassment of the U.S. Navy mapping ship by Chinese boats in international waters about 75 miles (120 kilometers) off its southern island province of Hainan.

U.S. claims that the USNS Impeccable was operating legally within China‘s exclusive economic zone when it was harassed by Chinese boats are “gravely in contravention of the facts and unacceptable to China,” spokesman Ma Zhaoxu said in a statement posted on the ministry’s Web site.

Ma’s comments, a virtual repeat of those made at a news conference Tuesday, showed neither side was prepared to back down, even as they prepare for a much-anticipated first meeting between Hu and President Barack Obama at next month’s G20 summit in London.

The issue also could come up Wednesday in Washington, where Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi is scheduled to meet with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Defense Department officials say the Impeccable was on a mission to seek out threats such as submarines and was towing a sonar apparatus that scans and listens for subs, mines and torpedoes. With its numerous Chinese military installations, Hainan offers rich hunting for such surveillance.

Of particular interest is the new submarine base near the resort city of Sanya that is home to the Chinese navy’s most sophisticated craft.

Photographs of the base taken last year and posted on the Internet by the Federation of American Scientists show a submarine cave entrance and a pier, with a Chinese nuclear-powered Jin class sub docked there.

While little else is known, its location on the South China Sea offers the People’s Liberation Army Navy access to crucial waterways through which much of the shipping bound for Japan and Northeast Asia must travel.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/200903
11/ap_on_re_as/as_china_us_13

Kilo submaine is a Russian design.  China, Iran and India also have these very quiet subs.

China uses naval showdown with U.S. to flex muscle

March 10, 2009

By confronting a U.S. surveillance ship off its coast this week, China appears to have sought to enforce ambitious maritime territorial claims and to have tested the mettle of the new U.S. administration.

China lashed out at Washington on Tuesday over the weekend incident, in which five Chinese ships confronted the Impeccable, a 281-foot U.S. submarine surveillance vessel, in what the Pentagon described as reckless and unprofessional behavior.

By Tim Johnson, McClatchy Newspapers

USNS IMPECCABLE
USNS Impeccable

“The U.S. claim is totally inaccurate, confuses right and wrong and is absolutely unacceptable to China ,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu said.

Ma said U.S. naval ships must ask China’s permission anytime they sailed within its exclusive economic zone, a 200-nautical-mile zone off its shores. The claim amounted to an assertive attempt to bar U.S. Navy vessels from approaching China’s shores, even affecting transit of the sensitive Taiwan Strait .

Ma said the USNS Impeccable “broke relevant international law, and Chinese laws and regulations, and engaged in activities in China’s exclusive economic zone in the South China Sea without China’s permission.”

He urged Washington to “take active measures to avoid similar incidents in the future.”

Some legal experts say that international law provides exclusive use only within the 12-mile territorial waters off countries’ shores, and that foreign ships have free passage through the broader exclusive economic zones.

“So long as the ships in this instance were transiting the EEZ outside the territorial waters, it would not appear that China’s position has legal foundation,” said Lester Ross , a lawyer with experience in international law at the Beijing office of the law firm WilmerHale. “I think it’s a substantial stretch for China to maintain this position.”

The Pentagon said the “harassment” of the Impeccable, a towering twin-hulled vessel, occurred Sunday 75 nautical miles south of Hainan Island . It identified the Chinese boats as a naval intelligence-gathering ship, a Bureau of Maritime Fisheries Patrol vessel, an oceanographic patrol vessel and two small trawlers, and added that one vessel had maneuvered dangerously close to the U.S. ship.

China is expanding a naval base for attack and ballistic missile submarines, which reportedly includes underwater tunnels for protection, on Hainan Island’s southeast side.

The conflict has a parallel with an incident in the early days of the administration of aianHainformer President George W. Bush , which led to heightened Sino-U.S. frictions.

On April 1, 2001 , two Chinese J-8 fighter jets intercepted a U.S. Navy EP-3 surveillance aircraft that was 70 miles off Hainan Island , resulting in a collision with one of them, forcing it into the sea. The EP-3 made an emergency landing on Hainan , where China kept it captive for three months, long after the 24 crew members were released.

As in that incident, this week’s scrap triggered heated reactions among ordinary Chinese who were incensed by the U.S. surveillance of its shores and proud of China’s forceful action.

“What happened proves that whoever has stronger fists, his word is truth,” an Internet user from Zhengzhou in Henan province posted on the Web site163.com.

Ross said that such military confrontations could stoke nationalism in both countries.

“There is a risk that doing something like this can inflame public opinion in the United States as well as China ,” he said.

The Pentagon said the incident was only one of a half-dozen “increasingly aggressive” acts against the Impeccable and a sister ship, the Victorious — which included flybys by Chinese surveillance planes — since last Wednesday.

U.S. naval ships and China’s sizable submarine fleet sometimes play cat and mouse as they take each other’s measure. In October 2006 , a Chinese submarine stalked the USS Kitty Hawk aircraft carrier near Hawaii and surfaced within firing range of its torpedoes before being detected.

In November 2007 , China canceled a port call by the Kitty Hawk and several escort ships in Hong Kong . In response, the Pentagon ordered the carrier group to sail through the choppy, shallow Taiwan Strait , the first time that an American carrier group had made the transit since 2002.

China voiced “grave concern” about the passage but didn’t claim at that time that U.S. naval ships had to stay outside the 200-mile limit.

The Taiwan Strait , which is barely 100 miles wide at one point, is a potential military flash point. Mainland China claims Taiwan as a renegade province, and says it has the right to seize control of the independently governed island.

Related:
China Wants U.S. Out of International Waters It Consides a “China Lake”

China Wants U.S. Out of Asia’s International Waters

March 10, 2009

The incident at sea between China and the U.S. Navy this last weekend indicates a growing truth among Chinese military officers: the seas adjacent to China wherever they extend are de facto Chinese terrirtory and the U.S. needs to leave.

This is in violation of international law which grants free passage to all who operate in international waters.

China is complaining saying the U.S. ship, while not in their territorial waters was in their “economic zone,” a claim that also pits the Chinese directly at odds with 5 countries (Taiwan, Philippines, Brunei, Vietnam and Malaysia) who would like to have their own territorial waters.

But China now has repeatedly expressed and demonstrated distain for international law — a a certain ability to push people around.

“They seem to be more militarily aggressive,” National Intelligence Director Dennis Blair told members of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

“I think the debate is still on in China whether as their military power increases they will be used for good or for pushing people around.”

But the Chinese say all the fault for this weekend’s incident belongs to the U.S. 

“Go and ask the Americans, ask their embassy,” China’s Vice Admiral Jin Mao, former PLA Navy vice commander in chief, told Reuters on the sidelines of parliament when asked about the incident. “Ask their officials what their ship was doing in Chinese waters.”

The fact is, the American ship operating in international waters is protected by international law — even if it is searching for submarines.

Related:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/2009031
0/ap_on_go_ca_st_pe/us_china_incident

Beijing will take a tougher stand against other nations as its naval ambitions grow, said analyst Shi Yinhong.

“The United States is present everywhere on the world’s seas, but these kinds of incidents may grow as China’s naval activities expand,” Shi, an expert on regional security at Renmin University in Beijing, said.

Analyst Shi said the seas off Hainan were important to China’s projection of its influence with a modern naval fleet.

“The change is in China’s attitude. This reflects the hardening line in Chinese foreign policy and the importance we attach to the strategic value of the South China Sea.”

See a report from Reuters:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20
090310/pl_nm/us_usa_china

See also:
http://wok3.wordpress.com/2009/03/10/chin
a-the-dragon-stirs-and-strips-down-to-its-underwear/

Chong-pin Lin, Professor at the Graduate Institute of International Affairs and Strategic Studies at Tamkang University in Taiwan says, “I think the objective of the grand strategy of China is to squeeze out, very slowly and very gradually, the influence of the United States in East Asia, without war.”

A budget analyst at the U.S. Navy in the Pentagon told Peace and Freedom, “Our futue problem is this: with our current and projected budget deficits and debt, the U.S. will not be able to afford the navy it has now — while China will grow and improve its navy and take whatever it wants in the world.  That is the trend we see.”

Related:
 Era of Obama, American Weakness Emboldens Russia, China, Iran, North Korea, Terrorists
.
 Pentagon: Chinese Ships Harassed Unarmed U.S. Navy Craft in International Waters

What’s China’s Long Term Global Strategy?

China uses naval showdown with U.S. to flex muscle

China Says U.S. Ship Was Breaking Law

http://edition.cnn.com/2009/WORL
D/asiapcf/03/10/us.navy.china/ind
ex.html

China Says U.S. Ship Was Breaking Law

India, China jostle for influence in Indian Ocean

March 8, 2009

This battered harbor town on Sri Lanka’s southern tip, with its scrawny men selling even scrawnier fish, seems an unlikely focus for an emerging international competition over energy supply routes that fuel much of the global economy.

An impoverished place still recovering from the devastation of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, Hambantota has a desolate air, a sense of nowhereness, punctuated by the realization that looking south over the expanse of ocean, the next landfall is Antarctica.

But just over the horizon runs one of the world’s great trade arteries, the shipping lanes where thousands of vessels carry oil from the Middle East and raw materials to Asia, returning with television sets, toys and sneakers for European consumers.

By Gavin Rabinowitz
Associated Press
June 2008

These tankers provide 80 percent of China’s oil and 65 percent of India’s — fuel desperately needed for the two countries’ rapidly growing economies. Japan, too, is almost totally dependent on energy supplies shipped through the Indian Ocean.

Any disruption — from terrorism, piracy, natural disaster or war — could have devastating effects on these countries and, in an increasingly interdependent world, send ripples across the globe. When an unidentified ship attacked a Japanese oil tanker traveling through the Indian Ocean from South Korea to Saudi Arabia in April, the news sent oil prices to record highs.

Emerging giants
For decades the world relied on the powerful U.S. Navy to protect this vital sea lane. But as India and China gain economic heft, they are moving to expand their control of the waterway, sparking a new — and potentially dangerous — rivalry between Asia’s emerging giants.

China has given massive aid to Indian Ocean nations, signing friendship pacts, building ports in Pakistan and Bangladesh as well as Sri Lanka, and reportedly setting up a listening post on one of Myanmar’s islands near the strategic Strait of Malacca.

Now, India is trying to parry China’s moves. It beat out China for a port project in Myanmar. And, flush with cash from its expanding economy, India is beefing up its military, with the expansion seemingly aimed at China. Washington and, to a lesser extent, Tokyo are encouraging India’s role as a counterweight to growing Chinese power.

INDIA OCEAN INTRIGUE
ESRI / AP
Map locates the major Indian Ocean oil trade routes and newly developed ports built by China.

Among China’s latest moves is the billion dollar port its engineers are building in Sri Lanka, an island country just off India’s southern coast.

The Chinese insist the Hambantota port is a purely commercial move, and by all appearances, it is. But some in India see ominous designs behind the project, while others in countries surrounding India like the idea. A 2004 Pentagon report called Beijing’s effort to expand its presence in the region China’s “string of pearls.”

No one wants war, and relations between the two nations are now at their closest since a brief 1962 border war in which China quickly routed Indian forces. Last year, trade between India and China grew to $37 billion and their two armies conducted their first-ever joint military exercise.

Still, the Indians worry about China’s growing influence.

“Each pearl in the string is a link in a chain of the Chinese maritime presence,” India’s navy chief, Adm. Sureesh Mehta, said in a speech in January, expressing concern that naval forces operating out of ports established by the Chinese could “take control over the world energy jugular.”

“It is a pincer movement,” said Rahul Bedi, a South Asia analyst with London-based Jane’s Defense Weekly. “That, together with the slap India got in 1962, keeps them awake at night.”

B. Raman, a hawkish, retired Indian intelligence official, expressed the fears of some Indians over the Chinese-built ports, saying he believes they’ll be used as naval bases to control the area.

“We cannot take them at face value. We cannot assume their intentions are benign,” said Raman.

But Zhao Gancheng, a South Asia expert at the Chinese government-backed Shanghai Institute for International Studies, says ports like Hambantota are strictly commercial ventures. And Sri Lanka says the new port will be a windfall for its impoverished southern region.
.
With Sri Lanka’s proximity to the shipping lane already making it a hub for transshipping containers between Europe and Asia, the new port will boost the country’s annual cargo handling capacity from 6 million containers to some 23 million, said Priyath Wickrama, deputy director of the Sri Lankan Ports Authority.

Wickrama said a new facility was needed since the main port in the capital Colombo has no room to expand and Trincomalee port in the Northeast is caught in the middle of Sri Lanka’s civil war. Hambantota also will have factories onsite producing cement and fertilizer for export, he said.

Gearing military expansion towards ChinaMeanwhile, India is clearly gearing its military expansion toward China rather than its longtime foe, and India has set up listening stations in Mozambique and Madagascar, in part to monitor Chinese movements, Bedi noted. It also has an air base in Kazakhstan and a space monitoring post in Mongolia — both China’s neighbors.

 

India has announced plans to have a fleet of aircraft carriers and nuclear submarines at sea in the next decade and recently tested nuclear-capable missiles that put China’s major cities well in range. It is also reopening air force bases near the Chinese border.

Encouraging India’s role as a counter to China, the U.S. has stepped up exercises with the Indian navy and last year sold it an American warship for the first time, the 17,000-ton amphibious transport dock USS Trenton. American defense contractors — shut out from the lucrative Indian market during the long Cold War — have been offering India’s military everything from advanced fighter jets to anti-ship missiles.

“It is in our interest to develop this relationship,” U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said during a visit to New Delhi in February. “Just as it is in the Indians’ interest.”

Officially, China says it’s not worried about India’s military buildup or its closer ties with the U.S. However, foreign analysts believe China is deeply concerned by the possibility of a U.S.-Indian military alliance.

Ian Storey of the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore said China sent strong diplomatic messages expressing opposition to a massive naval exercise India held last year with the U.S., Japan, Singapore and Australia. And Bedi, the Jane’s analyst, added “those exercises rattled the Chinese.”

Growing military budgetsIndia’s 2007 defense budget was about $21.7 billion, up 7.8 percent from 2006. China said its 2008 military budget would jump 17.6 percent to some $59 billion, following a similar increase last year. The U.S. estimates China’s actual defense spending may be much higher.

 

Like India, China is focusing heavily on its navy, building an increasingly sophisticated submarine fleet that could eventually be one of the world’s largest.

While analysts believe China’s military buildup is mostly focused on preventing U.S. intervention in any conflict with Taiwan, India is still likely to persist in efforts to catch up as China expands its influence in what is essentially India’s backyard. Meanwhile, Sri Lankans — who have looked warily for centuries at vast India to the north — welcome the Chinese investment in their country.

“Our lives are going to change,” said 62-year-old Jayasena Senanayake, who has seen business grow at his roadside food stall since construction began on the nearby port. “What China is doing for us is very good.”

Speculation grows on China aircraft carrier plans

March 6, 2009

China will have an aircraft carrier “very soon,” a top Chinese naval officer told a newspaper published Friday, fueling speculation over a pending official announcement on the long-awaited project.

The Global Times newspaper cited east China fleet commander Adm. Xu Hongmeng as saying China possessed both the ability and motivation to build a carrier — a weapon system that is strongly backed by the navy but somewhat less enthusiastically by the People’s Liberation Army’s top commanders.

“China really needs a carrier. Both technologically and economically, China already has the capacity to build a carrier,” said Xu, who was quoted while attending the national legislature’s annual session in Beijing on Thursday.

“China will very soon have its own aircraft carrier,” he told the paper, published by the Communist Party mouthpiece People’s Daily.

Xu’s remarks came on the day the central government announced its 2009 budget, including a 14.9 percent rise in military spending this year to 480.68 billion yuan ($70.27 billion). No breakdown of the defense budget was provided.

By CHRISTOPHER BODEEN, Associated Press

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/200
90306/ap_on_re_as/as_china_navy_2

Related:
China’s Growing Naval Reach May Cause Worries
.
Piracy draws China back to the ranks of maritime giants
.
 What’s China’s Long Term Global Strategy?
.
China Launching First Long-Range Naval Mission Since 15th Century

General Hints China’s Navy May Add Carrier

China begins landmark Somali piracy patrols

January 6, 2009

A Chinese naval convoy arrived Tuesday in the Gulf of Aden on a landmark mission to protect the country’s shipping from Somali pirates and escorted its first four vessels, state media reported.

The four ships escorted were Chinese merchant vessels, including one from Hong Kong, Xinhua news agency said in a dispatch filed from aboard the destroyer Wuhan.

The naval mission, deploying two destroyers and a supply ship, marks China‘s first potential combat mission beyond its territorial waters in centuries.

AFP

In this photo released by China's Xinhua News Agency, China's ... 
In this photo released by China’s Xinhua News Agency, China’s missile destroyer Wuhan leads Chinese ships sailing in the Gulf of Aden off Somalia Tuesday, Jan. 6, 2009. The Chinese naval fleet arrived in the area on Tuesday to carry out the first escort mission against pirates, Xinhua said.(AP Photo/Xinhua, Qian Xiaohu)

The fleet was deployed in response to an escalation of pirate attacks on merchant ships, including Chinese vessels, plying the crucial shipping route linking Asia and Europe.

The missile-armed destroyers DDG-171 Haikou and DDG-169 Wuhan, and the Weishanhu supply ship, are among China’s most sophisticated and have all entered service this decade, Xinhua said previously.

They will operate alongside other international warships patrolling the area near the Gulf of Aden, part of the Suez Canal route.

The fleet will mainly protect Chinese vessels, including those from Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan, but will also escort foreign ships passing through the area on request, Xinhua has said.

After three months the ships will be replaced by another flotilla, depending on UN Security Council decisions and the situation at the time, reports have said.

China has said its warships will investigate any suspected pirate vessels, and approach them and demand that they show their relevant documents and certificates.

Two helicopters accompanying the flotilla will be used during such tasks, military officials said earlier.

China Targets Pirates in Naval Mission

January 4, 2009

Chinese warships headed toward Somali waters Friday to combat piracy, the first time the communist country has sent ships on a mission that could involve fighting so far beyond its territorial waters.

The deployment to the Gulf of Aden, which has been plagued by increasingly bold pirate attacks in recent months, marks a major step in the navy’s evolution from mostly guarding China’s coasts to patrolling waters far from home.

The move was welcomed by the U.S. military, which has been escorting cargo ships in the region along with India, Russia and the European Union. But analysts predicted the Chinese intervention could be troubling to some Asian nations who might see it as a sign of the Chinese military becoming more aggressive.

In this photo released by China's Xinhua News Agency, a ceremony ... 
In this photo released by China’s Xinhua News Agency, a ceremony is held before a Chinese naval fleet sets sail from a port in Sanya city of China’s southernmost island province of Hainan on Friday, Dec. 26, 2008. Chinese warships, armed with special forces, guided missiles and helicopters, set sail for anti-piracy duty off Somalia, the first time the communist nation has sent ships on a mission that could involve fighting so far beyond its territorial waters.(AP Photo/Xinhua, Zha Chunming)

The naval force that set sail from southern Hainan on Friday afternoon included a supply ship and two destroyers — armed with guided missiles, special forces and two helicopters. China announced it was joining the anti-piracy mission Tuesday after the U.N. Security Council authorized nations to conduct land and air attacks on pirate bases.

Pentagon spokesman Maj. Stewart Upton said the U.S. welcomed China’s move.

Pirates working out of Somalia have made an estimated $30 million this year, seizing more than 40 vessels off the country’s 1,880-mile (3,000-kilometer) coastline. Most of the attacks have occurred in the Gulf of Aden, one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes.

Deploying ships to the area helped stoke national pride among Chinese who feel their increasingly wealthy nation should be playing a bigger role in world affairs.

By WILLIAM FOREMAN
Associated Press Writer

The front-page of the Southern Metropolis Daily — one of southern China’s most popular newspapers — had a photo Friday of a special forces member posing with his finger on the trigger of an assault rifle armed with a grenade launcher. A headline read, “They won’t rule out a direct conflict with pirates.”

For several decades, China has kept a massive army focused on protecting its land borders, while the country’s navy was relatively weak. But in recent years, as China became more deeply involved in the global economy, it concluded that a stronger navy was needed to protect its increasingly vital sea shipments of oil, raw materials and other goods.

China has been rapidly beefing up its navy with new destroyers, submarines and missiles. Naval officers have even been talking about building an aircraft carrier that could help the navy become a “blue-water” force — a fleet capable of operating far from home.

Denny Roy, a senior fellow at the East-West Center in Hawaii, said the naval buildup and the mission to Somalia are the latest signs that China is no longer willing to rely on the U.S. or other foreign navies to protect its increasingly global interests.

“China has not been dissuaded from entering the field,” Roy said. “That leaves open the possibility of a China-U.S. naval rivalry in the future.”

Roy predicted China’s move would alarm Japan and some in South Korea because both countries have long-standing territorial disputes with China. But he said most Southeast Asian countries may see China’s involvement in the anti-piracy campaign as a positive thing. It would mean that China was using its greater military might for constructive purposes, rather than challenging the current international order.

India, another longtime rival of China, would likely welcome the Chinese naval presence off Somalia for the short term, said C. Uday Bhaskar, a former naval commander and retired director of India’s Institute of Defense Studies and Analyses. He doubted it would upset the strategic balance.

“If it is working for the common good, then I think India will welcome it,” he said.

China’s military has not said how long the mission would last, but the state-run China Daily newspaper recently reported the ships would be gone for about three months. The paper said about 20 percent of the 1,265 Chinese ships passing through the Somali area have come under attack this year.

The mission will likely offer Chinese sailors invaluable on-the-job training, according to Stratfor, an Austin, Texas-based intelligence company. The mission will be complex, with crews having to do refueling, resupply and repairs far from home amid the constant threat of pirate attacks.

The waters will also be crowded with naval ships from around the world, testing the Chinese ships’ abilities to communicate effectively with other vessels in a common mission that has little central organization.

The Chinese will very likely monitor the way foreign forces, “especially U.S. warships, communicate with each other and with their shipborne helicopters,” the Stratfor report said.

A NATO task force to the Gulf of Aden was recently replaced by a European Union flotilla with four to six ships patrolling the area.

About a dozen other warships, including U.S., German, and Danish ships, are in the region as part of a separate international flotilla based in Bahrain and engaged in anti-terrorism operations. Several individual nations, including Saudi Arabia, Russia, Malaysia and India, also have vessels in the Gulf of Aden.

The China Daily on Friday quoted Rear Adm. Du Jingchen, the mission’s chief commander, as saying a total of 1,000 crew members will be on the three Chinese ships.

“We could encounter unforeseen situations,” Du was quoted as saying. “But we are prepared for them.”

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