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of national construction, disaster relief, and rebuilding.” Aircraft carriers and helicopters, it suggests, are vital for such “non-combat military operations.”62

The final category of potential Chinese carrier missions includes collective maritime security (e.g., sea-lane protection and counterpiracy). This collective- security force structure is obviously a secondary mission of the PLAN, and it would be oriented toward friends and rivals in the South China Sea and the In- dian Ocean. Deployment of an aircraft carrier would enable modest force pro- jection to assert Chinese claims in the South China Sea. In this vision, Varyag or an indigenous carrier in the mold of India’s older Viraat, its new Gorshkov, Thai- land’s Chakri Naruebet, or Japan’s Osumi would be all the Chinese would need. A more robust and capable carrier strike group might be needed properly to de- fend Chinese sea lanes and energy access through the Strait of Malacca to the In- dian Ocean, but even an ability to show the flag in this fashion could have valuable psychological effects. In an important article in 1998, noted China In- stitute of Contemporary International Relations scholar Zhang Wenmu con- tended that America had historically pursued a strategy of monopolizing access to oil. Land-accessible energy resources in Central Asia offer an important hedge against Chinese reliance on sea-based energy supply, which is far easier for U.S. forces to control and disrupt.63 But Zhang strongly believed that China must control its sea-based oil supplies as well:

China is facing fierce competition overseas in obtaining its share of crude oil. . . . [U]nder globalization a nation’s energy security is no longer an economic issue alone. Instead, it is also a political issue, as well as a military issue. . . . [It is therefore necessary to] build up our navy as quickly as possible. . . . We must be prepared as early as possible. Otherwise, China may lose everything it has gathered in normal in- ternational economic activities, including its energy interest, in a military defeat.64 China should strive to develop its naval power. China should not only strengthen its naval power and defense to protect imported oil, but also expand its navy to achieve its influence over the offshore resources in the Asia Pacific region with [its] complex rights dispute[s]. [Sea] power has a permanent [significance for] the trade of coastal countries, and the backup of a country’s [sea] power is its navy. Therefore, the long term approach toward ensuring open sea lane and potential ocean resources is to [develop] a modern oceangoing navy.65

For these reasons and others, Zhang strongly contended, China needs aircraft carriers—although nuclear submarines are even more important (at least at


As to the issues of complementary capabilities in Chinese submarine doc- trine, the Soviet model might be illustrative. Soviet deck aviation had an impor- tant ASW component. In the 1970s and 1980s, the Soviet navy considered bastion strategies of protecting SSBNs, performing area-denial and ASW


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