Anew U.S. Navy strategy paper from the Chief of Naval Operations calls China “our most pressing long-term strategic threat,” pointing to the communist nation’s rapid and massive ongoing naval modernization efforts, militarization in the South China Sea, aggressive maritime operations and grand ambitions to emerge as the pre-eminent global superpower.
“China is aggressively building a Navy to rival our own. Already possessing the world’s largest fleet, China continues to build modern surface combatants, submarines, aircraft carriers, amphibious assault ships, and next-generation fighters,” the CNO NAVPLAN states. “Now, they are extending their infrastructure across the globe to control access to critical waterways.”
Chinese Naval expansion has been on the Pentagon’s radar for many years because of the pace and scope with which it has been adding new platforms, adding new weapons systems and expanding provocative operations in areas near Japan and the South China Sea. The Chinese Navy, which has itself already grown to more than 300 ships, also massively increases its activity through cooperation with other parts of its maritime force.”
“Operating under the cover of the world’s largest missile force, the People’s Liberation Army—Navy (PLAN) deploys alongside the Chinese Coast Guard and Maritime Militia to harass global shipping and exert pressure on regional countries below the level of traditional armed conflict.”