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China to build aircraft carriers?
Posted by: McQ on Tuesday, November 18, 2008

China seems to be seriously looking at such a project:
The comments from Major General Qian Lihua, director of the ministry’s Foreign Affairs Office, come amid heated speculation within China and abroad that the increasingly potent naval arm of the People’s Liberation Army has decided to develop and deploy its first aircraft carrier. Traditionally, a carrier would accompany and protect a battle group of smaller ships.
Actually it's a mutual protection scheme, with the "group of smaller ships" dedicated to protecting the carrier.
Maj Gen Qian declined to comment directly on whether China had decided to build a carrier, but in the defence ministry’s most forthright statement yet on the issue he made clear that China had every right to do so.

“The navy of any great power?.?.?.?has the dream to have one or more aircraft carriers,” he said in the interview, which aides said was the first arranged by the defence ministry on its own premises. “The question is not whether you have an aircraft carrier, but what you do with your aircraft carrier.”
One thing which should be understood about aircraft carriers upfront - they're not defensive weapons. They are power projection weapons. So "what you do" is going be predicated on the question of where a country needs to project military power where it is incapable of doing so now.
“Navies of great powers with more than 10 aircraft carrier battle groups with strategic military objectives have a different purpose from countries with only one or two carriers used for offshore defence,” he said. “Even if one day we have an aircraft carrier, unlike another country, we will not use it to pursue global deployment or global reach.”
Obviously the argument can be made that ensuring vital sea lanes for the transport of oil to China must be kept open and that's a valid mission for a carrier battle group.

But so would supporting a military takeover of Taiwan - something, to this point, the Chinese aren't militarily structured to accomplish.
An effective Chinese carrier could have serious implications for any conflict involving Taiwan by strengthening the mainland’s ability to counter the island’s air force and control its sea-lanes.

Beijing claims sovereignty over Taiwan and threatens military action against the island if it tries to further formalise its current de facto independence. Taiwanese separatism was the “biggest threat” China currently faced, Maj Gen Qian said.
Of course building a carrier and then effectively using one, are two different things. Developing a naval aviation arm would also take time. That said, I'm not sure if I understand this:
Admiral Timothy Keating, head of US Pacific Command, said in Beijing last year that Chinese development of a carrier should not be the cause of any unnecessary tension, and that the US would even be willing to lend a helping hand.
To that I say, nonsense. We've seen enough in terms of "free" technology transfers to the Chinese over the years. Let them do a bit of trail and error development themselves. "Lending a helping hand" would appear to work against our best interests in the region by helping to destabilize the military situation there.
 
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Admiral Timothy Keating, head of US Pacific Command, said in Beijing last year that Chinese development of a carrier should not be the cause of any unnecessary tension, and that the US would even be willing to lend a helping hand.
To that I say, nonsense. We’ve seen enough in terms of "free" technology transfers to the Chinese over the years. Let them do a bit of trail and error development themselves. "Lending a helping hand" would appear to work against our best interests in the region by helping to destabilize the military situation there.

Couldn’t agree more, I was always thinking that we were using Australia and India to somewhat ’fence’ China in.
 
Written By: Jason
URL: http://
"and that the US would even be willing to lend a helping hand."


????????
Someone needs a change of scenery-a nice little securely gated retirement community perhaps, where he can take up a relaxing new hobby, one without sharp pointy things, like dominos or watching television.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
. . . the US would even be willing to lend a helping hand.
"Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer." - Sun-tzu
 
Written By: Arcs
URL: http://
Lending a helping hand is foolish, but Keating is right, this isn’t anything to really worry about. India is building one carrier and is refitting a second they bought from the Russians. China has also purchased a carrier from the Russians, so they may be closer to fielding a carrier force than we think.
 
Written By: Jeff the Baptist
URL: http://jeffthebaptist.blogspot.com
Well, Varyag wasn’t in great shape — not even completed fitting out — when the Chinese bought it, but no doubt it gives them a head start, particularly on structure and arrangement. And they’ve built an airfield (on land) shaped like a carrier, to practice aircraft handling. So there’s a fair bit of distance they’ve already gone. I am not sure how our helping them would be to our advantage, given that we already know they’re quite far behind us, and I don’t see that we’d get much information we’d need to fight them from the deal.

 
Written By: Jeff Medcalf
URL: http://www.caerdroia.org/blog
If one looks at the historical uses of aircraft carriers, one sees that power projection is not the only application. "Escort carriers" were widely used to protect merchant ship convoys in WWII. Escorts are a major step below attack carriers in technology and commitment.

Escort roles might be the stepping stone to full power projection roles though.

Of course, interdiction of shipments of oil to the Chinese is a major role for our naval forces in case of war, so the argument holds - why should the US aid China develop carriers in any role?
 
Written By: Joseph Somsel
URL: http://
This has been a long time in the making for China. They used the ex-HMAS Melbourne for a good deal of ’research’ before they scrapped it. The Varyag has been under an extensive refit since the moment it reached Chinese waters. But the hard job is operating a real one under real sea conditions, which will have a bit of a learning curve. Looks like the Sub faction lost emough strength for the Air folks to push forward.
 
Written By: Crusader
URL: http://www.coalitionoftheswilling.net/
In 1930, Germany was a military joke.
 
Written By: jpm100
URL: http://
China does not need an aircraft carrier to deal with Taiwan. It’s only a 30 minuter commercial flight from Fujian province to Taiwan.

I agree about not helping them build it.

If we are going to help them, sell them one instead. Better for the balance of payments and would help boost our economy.

Actually, other than Taiwan, are China’s geo-strategic goals that far from our own i.e. protect the sea-lanes, protect the oil?
 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
What about China, as the Great Power of the East Pacific, projecting force on the western littoral of the Pacific? As in friendly or not so friendly visits to Chile, Peru, Mexico, Panama (oh, they have a canal there, don’t they?), and San Francisco and Vancouver. The latter two for the sake of the take out menus.
 
Written By: kishnevi
URL: http://kishnevi.wordpress.com
China does not need an aircraft carrier to deal with Taiwan. It’s only a 30 minuter commercial flight from Fujian province to Taiwan.
Militarily China must have increased sea-lift, airlift and a way to protect and sustain any invasion. An aircraft carrier or two would be critical to the protection of any military action there (on the offshore or far side of Taiwan).
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.QandO.net
" protect the oil?"

A carrier might be useful to protect (acquire) the oil thought to be around the Spratly Islands, which are claimed by China. It is also, as Kishnevi notes, useful to increase prestige and influence, impressing and perhaps intimidating other countries in the area.
 
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