It must also be noted that China's Naval expansion is a departure from what many experts conjectured in the recent past. Like many before, Lee Lai To commented just a few years ago that China, regardless of its even then obvious desire to expand its naval might would be very unlikely to challenge the U.S. In any significant way. To argues that:
"U.S. military deterrence and U.S. interests -- particularly with regard to maintaining the security of the sea-lanes and forward deployment of the U.S. military in the Asia-Pacific region, including the South China Sea area -- have made and will continue to make China extremely cautious about engaging in actions that might draw Washington into the South China Sea disputes. (To 26)" (Wong)
To was also quick to note that up to the time of his research and work in 2003 that China had been rather discrete in hiding its naval expansion and increased activity in the South Asian Sea. (To 36) This observation of discrete camouflage made by To could be concluded by others as a serious attempt to maintain the element of surprise, with regard to China's grand expansion. This tactic seems to have worked, regardless of its intended purpose as many policy makers were taken aback by the growing forces in the area, which are concisely and briefly summarized by Wong. Acording to Wong, Chinese admirals are calling for the ability of China to use warships to provide escorts for all commercial vessels that it deems important to the nation's economy. They wish to have free reign to do so, "from as far as the Persian Gulf to the Strait of Malacca, in Southeast Asia, and to help secure Chinese interests in the resource-rich South and East China Seas." (Wong) This is a departure of significance for the nation, as until March of 2010 the nation had never docked a modern warship in the Middle East, something it did in Abu Dhabi with two ships at that time. According to Wong China seems to have a growing confidence and also a certain new willingness to make sure that all its international interests are asserted and protected in the growing global economy. (Wong)
Wong is also clear, that despite the observable competition between the U.S. And China militarily and especially in naval matters, China will not for some time pose any real threat to the might of the U.S. navy, at least in terms of size and expenditures, and that China does not seem to have real aggressive intentions toward the U.S. Or any other nation. The growth of the navy seems to be in large part in response to China's growing economic power, as more trade and consumption is occurring in and out of China than ever before and she has a serious need to control shipping especially. According to Wong China has simply decided that it can no longer sit back and trust that the U.S. Or any other nation will do its best to protect China's interests abroad. (Wong) The powers that be, and especially U.S. military leaders, always with a watchful eye toward change and the "potential" for aggression are openly afraid and warning of the threat of China's growing naval presence. Yet, it is also clear that this is their job, to be openly cautious about potential threat to U.S. interests and to international harmony, especially with regard to civilian trade.
"In late March, Adm. Robert F. Willard, the leader of the United States Pacific Command, said in Congressional testimony that recent Chinese military developments were "pretty dramatic." China has tested long-range ballistic missiles that could be used against aircraft carriers, he said. After years of denials, Chinese officials have confirmed that they intend to deploy an aircraft carrier group within a few years." (Wong)
Wong also notes that China is developing what he calls a "sophisticated submarine fleet." It is mere conjecture that the fleet would be used in an act of aggression but it is clear that the potential of this fleet to block foreign naval vessels from entrance to the regional waters is present if a conflict in the region occurred.
"Of particular concern is that elements of China's military modernization appear designed to challenge our freedom of action in the region," the admiral said.
Yalong Bay, on the southern coast of Hainan island in the South China Sea, is the site of & #8230; a new underground submarine base. The base allows submarines to reach deep water within 20 minutes and roam the South China Sea, which has some of the world's busiest shipping lanes and areas rich in oil and natural gas that are the focus of territorial disputes between China and other Asian nations." (Wong)
The strategic placement of the base, is simply logical as to best protect the region China must be able to launch and secure areas, as rapidly or even more rapidly than its previous protectors. The fact that other nations are concerned about it is also of logical import, as sea trade as well as national political harmony are crucial to the area and really to the whole of the world. As was previously noted some South East Asian nations have also been laying in new military acquisitions, and especially submarines not to match but at least to show competitive abilities, something they have not in the past felt they needed to do, because the U.S. (a neutral third party) was the historical naval watchdog. (Wong) (Janbo) (China tells U.S. that'd. China Sea is 'core interest' in new policy) (Odgaard)
"Regional officials have been surprised," said Huang Jing, a scholar of the Chinese military at the National University of Singapore. "We were in a blinded situation. We thought the Chinese military was 20 years behind us, but we suddenly realized China is catching up." (Wong)
There is really no better cause then for the transparency or at least relative transparency of the situation, as each member of the varied groups must come to the table and disclose their intentions, without opaque conjecture. Every party needs to sit at the table and either come to some terms as tot the role each has in any given scenario or at the very least disclose the intentions of the standards each agrees or disagrees with. One case in point is the need to have complete clarity regarding the disputed territories, as to just how far China is willing to go with regard to asserting her rights over lands that have been in question since the close of WWII.
"Another element of the Chinese Navy's new strategy is to extend its operational reach beyond the South China Sea and the Philippines to what is known as the "second island chain" -- rocks and atolls out in the Pacific, the official said. That zone significantly overlaps the United States Navy's area of supremacy." (Wong)
China and the U.S., as well as several other regional nations need to come to some sort of diplomatic truce, with regard to what will be considered and act of aggression by China and how it will be responded to. The most logical response that this collection of nations can take to this potentially explosive turn of events is to open the doors to one another and discuss in very frank consideration of the issues at hand, what the goals of each nation are and how they are similar or different. U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen, said this better than nearly anyone else has:
"We have virtually no relationship between the Chinese military and the United States military." said Mullen. "And I think having that kind of relationship and dialogue - what we can agree on, what we can disagree on, but at least learning more about each other - is absolutely critical." Admiral Mullen says the freeze contributes to what he called the "opaqueness" of China's military development and intentions, which he said makes him worry. The admiral, who was previously head of the U.S. Navy, said as China's naval capabilities increase, all countries will have to adjust their global military posture." (Pessin)
The development of a Chinese stronghold in the region might not be such as bad thing, especially considering new regional, non-traditional threats to oversea trade, like piracy and even natural disasters. China could potentially be the best thing that ever happened to the region, as long as the acts of aggression are reduced and the U.S. And other nations begin to understand and develop a report with China regarding the way it intends to act as an international peacekeeper, rather than a nation acting entirely in self-interest. One notable point that seems to have been underplayed in all this discussion is that not…