Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Time to prepare for China's aircraft carrier

"Time to prepare for China's aircraft carrier", so writes Global Times, the English edition of the state-run People's Daily.

I guess the Global Times is not a Mahan fan-boy, but I'd love its passive-aggressive overtone.

Note to Global Times, hire a better PR team.
Time to prepare for China's aircraft carrier

* Source: Global Times
* [01:59 March 11 2010]
* Comments

This is not the first year that "aircraft carrier" has become one of the buzzwords at China's two sessions. The conventional question, as put by a foreign journalist during the first press conference of this year's NPC session, reveals how much attention China's budding naval force has drawn.

Now, it is about time for the world to be prepared for China's first aircraft carrier plan in the future.

And, only when the old logic of sea power, illustrated by Alfred Thayer Mahan (18401914) in his book, The Influence of Sea Power upon History, 16601783, is broken and a new strategy gains ground can the preparation be properly made.

With maritime power and economic development closely intertwined, those who control the sea control the world. Urged by these Mahanian notions, Western nations like the US have tirelessly pursued a naval buildup for years.

More importantly, these notions have made the West to put on tinted glasses while looking at the rising sea power of the world's fastestgrowing economy.

Alarm is often raised to a new high, especially when it comes to the issue of aircraft carrier. Given the oldfashioned, assertive speculation, the Chinese navy has long adopted a lowkey approach to modernization.

Should the Mahanian logic not be broken, the impact of a potential maritime conflict could be distrastrous. The reason is simple: Numerous examples can be cited that almost all nations in the world are striving for naval buildup. The US is in possession of 11 aircraft carriers, and neighboring nations like India and South Korea have launched jumbo projects to build aircraft carriers.

But the Chinese are by no means the Mahanians.

Despite the connection made between economic strength and naval muscle, the defensive nature and mutuallybeneficial purpose of China's rising sea power emphasizes the difference between Mahanian theory and China's developing maritime strategy.

To fuel its economic growth, China has increasingly relied on the oceans as the avenues to safeguard its overseas investments, market and energy supplies. Yet this is something that needs to be understood by Western nations. A clear understanding of the situation is in the longterm national interest of Western nations.

China's ambition of building a bluewater navy is to pursue the basic right to develop, rather than maritime hegemony.

The Chinese navy equipped with aircraft carriers and other advanced weaponry would be able to better help maintain regional stability and world peace.

All these will build up the credibility of the new strategy of sea power in the emerging world order.

Today's China is not the US or the UK of 120 years ago when Mahan published his masterpiece.

Should a new, accurate logic be communicated to and accepted by the world, it would help dispel the suspicion and even hostility that may be aroused by China's sea power.

After all, as much as other nations, China has the legitimate right to build up its naval force – including aircraft carriers.

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