China as a Military Power
Randy Black found this information about China's capabilities, or lack thereof, regarding aircraft carriers: "Little is known about China's aircraft carrier programs, but it is known that one or two carriers are in the long-term naval plan. The Chinese have reportedly held discussions with the French and Russians concerning design and construction of new carriers, and have considered purchase of ex-Russian ships. Plans for purchase of old carriers have been abandoned, but there appears to be a continued desire and plan to acquire a carrier within the first decade of the 21st century.
During 1999 there were several reports that China had started construction of a 48,000 ton aircraft carrier. The reported start date was 2 Aug 1999; the ship would have steam propulsion, carry 24 aircraft, and feature and angled deck and VLS. However, the reported completion date was 2003, an impossibly short time (4.5 years) for a ship over seven times larger than any other warship built by the Chinese to date. Therefore the reports cannot be considered accurate, and must be regarded as rumor or propaganda until confirming evidence is produced.
The hulk of the Australian light carrier Melbourne, purchased for scrapping in 1985, remained in Chinese hands in 1994. The ship was being studied by naval designers.
During 8/1998 the ex-Soviet aviation cruiser Minsk was towed from a South Korean scrapyard to a Chinese port. However, she has been converted to an entertainment complex for civilian use. The former Soviet/Ukrainian carrier Varyag was towed out of the Black Sea en route to China on 1 November 2001, intended for a similar conversion. The ship had never been completed as a carrier, and had been an unmaintained hulk for a decade before she was sold.
And this: According to an assessment published last week in the <http://www.jamestown.org>Jamestown Foundation's weekly "China Brief," the People's Liberation Army navy "is developing methods to disable or sink American aircraft carriers and gathering the specific force packages to do so."
The <http://china.jamestown.org/pubs/view/cwe_002_014_004.htm>analysis, written by China expert Richard D. Fisher Jr., says Beijing "has long anticipated that to militarily subdue democratic Taiwan it will first need to win a battle against the United States."
"The early 1990s saw much evidence of carrier-related research and nationalist-political advocacy, particularly from the PLA navy ∑ to build a Chinese aircraft carrier," Fisher wrote. "But, following the political crises of 1995 and 1996, which saw the Clinton administration deploy two battle groups around the carriers Independence and Nimitz near Taiwan in response to threatening PLA exercises in March 1996, sinking a U.S. carrier became much more pressing than building one."
In his analysis, titled "To Take Taiwan, First Kill A Carrier," Fisher says that China's naval strategy may be to make defending Taiwan too expensive for the U.S. in terms of manpower, assets and political pressure.
"By actually sinking" an American carrier, Beijing hopes "to terminate U.S. attempts to save the island," Fisher said.
Sailing Toward a Storm in China
U.S. maneuvers could spark a war.
By Chalmers Johnson
July 15, 2004 "Los Angeles Times" -- Quietly and with minimal coverage in the U.S. press, the Navy announced that from mid-July through August it would hold exercises dubbed Operation Summer Pulse '04 in waters off the China coast near Taiwan.
This will be the first time in U.S. naval history that seven of our 12 carrier strike groups deploy in one place at the same time. It will look like the peacetime equivalent of the Normandy landings and may well end in a disaster.
At a minimum, a single carrier strike group includes the aircraft carrier itself (usually with nine or 10 squadrons and a total of about 85 aircraft), a guided missile cruiser, two guided missile destroyers, an attack submarine and a combination ammunition, oiler and supply ship.
Normally, the United States uses only one or at the most two carrier strike groups to show the flag in a trouble spot. In a combat situation it might deploy three or four, as it did for both wars with Iraq. Seven in one place is unheard of.
Operation Summer Pulse '04 was almost surely dreamed up at the Pearl Harbor headquarters of the U.S. Pacific Command and its commander, Adm. Thomas B. Fargo, and endorsed by neocons in the Pentagon. It is doubtful that Congress was consulted. This only goes to show that our foreign policy is increasingly made by the Pentagon.
According to Chinese reports, Taiwanese ships will join the seven carriers being assembled in this modern rerun of 19th century gunboat diplomacy. The ostensible reason given by the Navy for this exercise is to demonstrate the ability to concentrate massive forces in an emergency, but the focus on China in a U.S. election year sounds like a last hurrah of the neocons.
Needless to say, the Chinese are not amused. They say that their naval and air forces, plus their land-based rockets, are capable of taking on one or two carrier strike groups but that combat with seven would overwhelm them. So even before a carrier reaches the Taiwan Strait, Beijing has announced it will embark on a crash project that will enable it to meet and defeat seven U.S. carrier strike groups within a decade. There's every chance the Chinese will succeed if they are not overtaken by war first.
China is easily the fastest-growing big economy in the world, with a growth rate of 9.1% last year. On June 28, the BBC reported that China had passed the U.S. as the world's biggest recipient of foreign direct investment. China attracted $53 billion worth of new factories in 2003, whereas the U.S. took in only $40 billion; India, $4 billion; and Russia, a measly $1 billion.
Ronald Hilton -