Japan Institute for National Fundamentals

Speaking out

#161 China Seeking to Take Control of Global Waters by 2049

JINF / 2012.10.11 (Thu)

October 9, 2012

While China’s first aircraft carrier Liaoning has gone into service, Chinese naval ships have reportedly passed through waters between Japan’s Okinawa and Miyako Islands and conducted exercises in the Western Pacific.

China’s goal is to build full-blown aircraft carriers

China bought the aircraft carrier called Varyag from Ukraine while its construction was suspended due to the collapse of the Soviet Union. After completing the carrier, China renamed it as Liaoning after the province that has a homeport for the ship.

The Liaoning is equipped with a ski-jump flight deck for launching aircraft. Unlike the Chinese carrier, U.S. carriers use catapults to launch aircraft as if a cannon fires shells. The ski-jump and catapult carriers have large differences in the size, weight and performance of aircraft available for them, or in the quality and number of bombs or missiles aboard aircraft and in the aircraft launching speed. On landing on a carrier, an aircraft is arrested by catching the cable with a lowered arresting hook.

When I got on a U.S. aircraft carrier once, I felt that the carrier itself was a 24-hour battleground with constant aircraft takeoffs and landings. Therefore, I can conclude that no other country is likely to counter any U.S. aircraft carrier for the immediate future. Any other countries including China cannot build aircraft carriers as capable as those of the U.S. Even if they own U.S.-type carriers, they may have difficulties in operating such ships. China may intend to operate the feasible ski-jump aircraft carrier for the immediate future before building and operating full-blown catapult carriers.

China to expand into Western Pacific

Over the past decade, Chinese Naval fleets including 6,500-ton Soviet Sovremenny-class destroyers frequently sailed through waters between Okinawa and Miyako Islands for training and exercises in the Western Pacific. In the not-so-distant future, the aircraft carrier will lead a fleet instead of the destroyer.

China may take roughly several years to operate the Liaoning. So, it may enter the age of full-blown aircraft carriers between 2020 and 2050.

China may seek to absorb Taiwan by 2021, when the Chinese Communist Party will observe its centennial. Taiwan may only rename the “Republic of China” as “Taiwan Province of the People’s Republic of China.” China may then gradually “chinaize (sinicize)” Taiwan. The next goal may be to organize several carrier task forces to take control of global waters by 2049 marking the PRC’s centennial. This is Mao Zedong’s dream that has been taken over by later Chinese Communist Party leaders.

Shigeo Hiramatsu is Council Member, Japan Institute for National Fundamentals.

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