Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

Smart Bombs: Military, Defense and National Security

China’s Growing Navy: A Threat America Must Worry About?

The expansion of the Chinese Navy is a valid threat and one that needs to be taken seriously. But fortunately, the U.S. still holds an overall edge thanks to its carriers, its bases around the world, and partners that are also committed to free and open high seas, in the Indo-Pacific and beyond.

China Aircraft Carrier
Image: Creative Commons.

In an op-ed for Defense News on Tuesday, Sen. Marco Rubio, the vice chair of the United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, warned that U.S. seapower would be essential to countering communist China. The People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) is already on track to displace the U.S. Navy as the world’s dominant naval power by the end of the decade.

“The last few years have marked the return of great power competition, primarily between the United States and China. Our leaders have finally remembered what they had no right to forget: Human nature never changes, and the desire for conquest will always create conflict,” Rubio warned. “However, though our eyes have been opened, we remain woefully underprepared.”

The op-ed was published as China appeared to simulate its first aircraft carrier strike on Taiwan. This happened as the PLAN conducted its third day of drills around the self-ruling island that Beijing insists is a breakaway province. China launched the drills one day after Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen returned from a 10-day visit to Central America and the United States, where she met U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy.

Beijing began its naval build-up following the 18th Party Congress in 2012, when then-President Hu Jintao called for China to become a maritime power capable of safeguarding its rights and interests at sea. A report from the Center for Strategic and International Studies further noted that President Xi Jinping reiterated this position in April 2018 when he stated that “the task of building a powerful navy has never been as urgent as it is today.”

Last year, it was reported that Beijing was on track to expand the PLAN’s fleet to 400 ships by 2025, with the growth focused on surface combatants.

 The Balance of Seapower

The Republican senator also stressed that the U.S. Navy has successfully eliminated piracy, prohibited extortion, and ensured that virtually every country on the planet has the ability to trade — and it has asked for nothing in return.

“That will end if Beijing uses a more powerful force to overturn our maritime supremacy,” Rubio suggested.

Rubio, who also serves on the Foreign Relations and Appropriations committees, further noted that just one of China’s 13 naval shipyards has greater productive capacity than all seven U.S. shipyards combined.

“That is not especially surprising given that some in our government seem content to export all domestic manufacturing,” Rubio explained while calling for efforts to build up the U.S. Navy.

The senator further warned that the current White House budget request for the Navy and Marine Corps is an increase of about 2%, which is actually below inflation and therefore is essentially a cut to U.S. Navy funding when it is already losing ground.

“It makes no sense when the production of the Columbia-class submarine is 10% behind schedule and that of the Virginia-class submarine is ‘significantly behind,’” Rubio added, while calling to prioritize and accelerate U.S. shipbuilding.

Rubio explained that the U.S. was able to defeat Nazi Germany and the Empire of Japan in part because of efforts to outcompete and outproduce the Axis powers on the factory floor. He concluded by quoting President Theodore Roosevelt, who said, “A good navy is not a provocation to war. It is the surest guarantee of peace.”

In the January issue of the U.S. Naval Institute’s Proceedings magazine, Sam Tangredi, a former U.S. Navy captain, cautioned that if history is any guide, China’s numerical advantage is likely to lead to defeat for the U.S. Navy in any war with China.

Though it is true that in a head-to-head fight, China may have a numerical advantage over the U.S. Navy, it has just two operational aircraft carriers, compared to the U.S. Navy’s 11 Nimitz-class nuclear-powered flattops. 

In addition, Tangredi failed to note that the U.S. fleet weighs in at around 4.5 million tons, compared to a Chinese fleet that only slightly exceeds 2 million tons. China also doesn’t have the overseas bases that the United States has to resupply or maintain its fleet. Finally, the U.S. has numerous regional allies and partners, including South Korea, Japan, and Taiwan, and Washington is forging a new partnership with the Philippines. By contrast, China’s closest ally remains North Korea, which barely has a fleet, apart from antiquated submarines.

The expansion of the Chinese Navy is a valid threat and one that needs to be taken seriously. But fortunately, the U.S. still holds an overall edge thanks to its carriers, its bases around the world, and partners that are also committed to free and open high seas, in the Indo-Pacific and beyond.

MORE: Video – Ukraine Has Massive New NATO ‘Cannon’ Ready To Fight Russia

MORE: ‘Americans Will Pay The Price’: One Democrat Is Angry At Joe Biden

MORE: Could Joe Biden Get Impeached?

Author Experience and Expertise:

A Senior Editor for 19FortyFive, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer. He has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,200 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, politics, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes and Clearance Jobs. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.

Written By

Expert Biography: A Senior Editor for 1945, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,000 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.