CHINA, August 28 — A report released by the U.S. Defense Department warned that China’s current military build-up is “potentially destabilizing” in the Pacific (NYT, 8/24). The report points to China’s growing naval capabilities as a potential challenge to U.S. dominance in the region. For the last decade U.S. plans to contain Chinese growth and influence have relied on unchallenged access to the vital waterways that serve as China’s link to Middle Eastern oil reserves. In 1999 the Hart-Rudman Report stated that should a conflict arise between the U.S. and China that “the parade of supertankers streaming to Chinese ports would be vulnerable to interdiction” (Phase I, p 73).
China has apparently heeded Washington’s threats and is now making moves to secure these vital waterways. In 2010 China announced its Far Sea Defense strategy causing the New York Times to write in a panic, “The Chinese military is seeking to project naval power well beyond the Chinese coast, from the oil ports of the Middle East to the shipping lanes of the Pacific, where the U.S. has long reigned as the dominant force” (NYT, 4/23/10).
China’s naval build-up is moving forward with astonishing speed. In 2009 China revealed to international observers its new nuclear submarines (NYT, 4/21/09). In January 2011 China held the first test flight of its brand new stealth jet fighter during a visit to Beijing by then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates (Reuters, 8/18). The building of a stealth fighter is particularly interesting because it is not only useless against anybody other than other imperialists like the U.S., but it was also apparently designed with the help of Russian engineers.
In July, China held the first open-seas trial of a refitted Soviet-era aircraft carrier purchased from the Ukraine. It is the first of three Chinese aircraft carriers currently under development (Reuters, 7/28). Now the Pentagon is claiming that China is developing an anti-ship ballistic missile that is capable of striking American aircraft carriers (NYT, 8/24).