Video Above: China’s Navy is Larger than the US but can it Compete?
For the first time in its decades long history, the NATO alliance plans to formally cite “China” in its soon to be released Strategic Concept paper, a substantial adaptation which seems to reflect concern about Russian-Chinese collaboration and the global threat presented by China.
When asked about this upcoming Strategic Concept, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin was clear that indeed the NATO alliance will be keeping a close eye on China and the security situation in the Pacific.
“We've seen a number of countries that are members of this Alliance operate in the Indo-Pacific, some in conjunction with us and other countries like Australia and Japan,” Austin said following a meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in Brussels, Belgium. “The alliance as a whole…….. will pay attention to what’s going on in the region.”
There are a number of pertinent things which this move seems to suggest, the most obvious of which simply being China’s ability to present substantial security threats beyond the Pacific theater, potentially reaching Europe and the Mediterranean.
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The sheer size and reach of the Chinese Navy, for instance, enables it to travel much farther distances than it previously could. China has quickly transitioned from a dominant regional power into a rival international power seeking dominance. Part of this global Chinese effort, articulated in the Pentagon’s annual report on China, is to vastly expand its global footprint in vital areas such as Africa.
The Chinese military, for example, built a large military base on the Eastern coast of Africa right near a US facility in Djibouti. A port in a location such as this opens up avenues of approach into the Middle East and Indian coast, among other things. Submarines, carriers, warships and other threatening Chinese platforms could dock there to refuel, resupply and prepare for lengthy surface or underesea deployments capable of reaching previously inaccessible waters.
China’s Navy is already larger than the US Navy, and the People’s Liberation Army - Navy is already building its third aircraft carrier and a 5th-generation J-31 carrier-launched stealth aircraft to rival the F-35C.
When it comes to pursuing global domination, China unquestionably has the ambition, according to the Pentagon’s most recent China report specifies that the communist authoritarian country seeks to achieve a status as the dominant global power by 2049, when the PRC reaches its centennial. However, the pace of Chinese shipbuilding and modernization may suggest that China views this possibility as something even nearer term.
Kris Osborn is the President of Warrior Maven - Center for Military Modernization and the Defense Editor for the National Interest. Osborn previously served at the Pentagon as a Highly Qualified Expert with the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army—Acquisition, Logistics & Technology. Osborn has also worked as an anchor and on-air military specialist at national TV networks. He has appeared as a guest military expert on Fox News, MSNBC, The Military Channel, and The History Channel. He also has a Masters Degree in Comparative Literature from Columbia University.