Why Does China Need a Blue Water Navy?

Whilst the attention of the USA and the UK is distracted by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, our most likely enemy for the mid to long-term, Communist China, is beavering away at ramping up her military power. The objective becomes plainer by the day: to elevate herself to Super Power status with an Afro-Asian Empire to sustain her need for commodities.

Those naysayers who would stick their heads in the sand need look no further than all the signs: the ruthless exploitation of Darfur for its oil; the rapidly burgeoning presence of China in the business of minerals, oil and gems in Africa; its diversion of huge sums of money (though as yet not the sort of money the USA spends) to its defence budget; its hardline nationalist attitudes towards its neighbours such as Japan, Taiwan and South Korea.

Today the Daily Telegraph reports yet another sign of its development of a blue water navy with a global strategic reach capable of threatening American and British cities: a huge underground naval base on the well-placed island of Hainan that, with good reason, is believed to be the home of its latest class of nuclear submarines equipped with nuclear weapons. Particularly noteworthy is the ability of departing and incoming submarines to leave and enter the base underwater, thus significantly enhancing their ability to remain hidden from prying eyes.

The day must surely come when this potential threat becomes a real one and yet we continue to adopt a mealy-mouthed appeasement towards China. Concerning the military threat that China will represent no more than ten years hence, we do absolutely nothing. With oil already at US $ 115 (65% more expensive than a year ago), China's thirst for oil is likely to keep that price spiralling ever upward. How long can our economy continue to function properly in those circumstances and when will the struggle for access to oil lead to a nascent confrontation between the West and China? And will we be ready for it?

These are questions which our pusillanimous politicians will refuse to contemplate since to do so would involve a discussion of defence and what money we need to spend to place our armed forces in a position where we can play a serious part in any confrontation with China, something we may need to do in order to preserve our way of life and the long-term health and wealth of our nation. Since raising money for defence must necessarily impinge upon the pouring of cash into the Social Welfare cow, it is a question which neither Labour nor the neo-Butskellite Tories will be prepared to address. But if we do not start even thinking about it today, then when the inevitable confrontation comes we will be quite unprepared.

As always, the greatest threat to our freedom is if our politicians do nothing.

Beijing coma (2)

"There is a big gap between Western perceptions and the realities of China...The dark side of China is coming to light". - Ma Jian.

Beijing coma

"When people are denied access to their history, they lose the ability to make moral judgements.It can lead to a very dangerous situation". - Ma Jian.


@ kappert


You could learn much from the writings of this Chinese author. 

Another of life's little ironies

Kappert: "China ended a 40-years 'independence' of Tibet by abolishing feudalism".


If kappert is going to be consistent, surely he should recognise the fact that a similar argument applies to justify the neocon push to rid the Middle East of  Arab feudalism.

Thanx # 2

@ Kappert

As I said, I have no illusions about "convincing" you of any Chinese imperialism. Your misconceptions and misinformation about the many subjects (that you referred to) are too numerous. But, I did have some hope though, that you would still be capable of honest and accurate reading. Apparently that was in vain. Let me illustrate.

My previous posting (to you) gave numerous examples of Chinese border conflicts (and land grabs) with its NEIGHBORS over my lifetime. The contrast I drew with the US borders was a correct one. The US-Canadian border is the longest undefended border in the world. The US could take over Canada in 6 hours if it wanted to. This is not an issue, and neither is the Mexican border an issue in that sense (it is of course in terms of massive illegal Mexican immigration to the US). You refuse to even address this point and address a totally different issue, i.e. US foreign policies over the past decades in geopolitics. That is a totally different issue, and a totally different discussion, and can only sensibly be pursued one specific problem at a time. Are you going to tell me, for instance, that US policies (and interventions) in the Middle East (or such policies of other great powers there) are in any way comparable to China's annexation of Tibet, or China's recent law to take over Taiwan? If you do, then you are dishonest and hopelessly blinded to rational conversation. In short you want a discussion of US foreign policy, not about concrete evidence of Chinese "imperialism". Why? Because you do not WANT to see it, and therefore you cannot see it.

It is impossible in a few paragraphs to deal with all your misconceptions about so many issues that you raised. I will just take one: the matter of Taiwan. You question that it is a "democracy". My response is very simple. In Taiwan there is freedom of political speech, and there is genuine political competition. Over the last 2 decades, power has ALTERNATED several times between 2 very different parties with very different viewpoints and different policies. These are OBSERVABLE FACTS. And that there is no freedom of political speech and no power alternation between different 'ideologies' in Beijing, those are FACTS too. Your silly statement that Taiwan is more "nationalistic" than China is NOT A FACT, it is an unsupported OPINION. What does it mean? It could mean anything. Did Taiwan pass a law recently that instructs its government to take over China? No, Beijing did. Do Taiwanese leaders regularly issue public threats to invade China? No, but the Chinese do! If you cannot make empirical observations, you cannot form sensible opinions.

It is because you are willing to overlook facts, that many of your opinions (regarding Taiwan, but also regarding all the other issues you touched upon) are so wrongheaded. But, that is first and foremost your problem, not mine. And so is the dishonesty that you displayed about the 'border discussion'.


Blue water navy

The issue is the alleged Blue Water Navy of China. Regarding the use of such a navy, I may recall the Falkland Islands, disputed between GB and Argentina (did they had a BWN?), the transportation of missiles to Cuba, Turkey, etc. during the Cold War, and military interventions: Libya, Egypt, Somalia, Iraq, Vietnam, ... With the exception of the great Chinese ships cruising the African coast in the 15/16th century (mentioned by traveller), please indicate me other Chinese naval endeavours. And tell the story of Quemoy island.

@ kappert

Oh, no you don't, you are not going to use my example of a narcistic Chinese empire and emperor and transplant it to today's communist China.
The expansion drift of China never existed before the communists, trained in international marxism in Moscow and Paris and devoured by feelings of revenge because of the 19th century Western colonialism. Before China wasn't even thinking about exporting Chinese culture but since the communist indoctrination of worldwide control by communism the idea was put in the Chinese mind.
Remember how they treated Tibet AND their "communist partner" Vietnam.
Now they threaten Taiwan which was never Chinese. Remember their secret wars with Russia over the Amur river. This modern China is completely different from the pre-communist China. Socialism in action.

Psittacine K' (2)

@ marcfrans


Perhaps Citizen K should be encouraged to put his convictions where his mouth is and organize a Chinese equivalent of our own CND. He could undertake a personal visit to Beijing to personally overesee the planning of the street demos and demand that the Chinese regime  offer the world a "moral lead" by unilaterally abandoning all its nuclear weaponry etc., 

If he succeeds, we gain world peace, and if he fails, we get rid of him forevevererer... I'd say that's a win-win scenario for the West, wouldn't you agree?



@ marcfrans

Psittacine: Relating to, resembling, or characteristic of parrots.

PS I agree. Planting those seeds in Ethical PEAT is the smarter option. ;-)

Papagei # 4

@ Atlanticist


No, I do not, although 'progress' is possible.  Ethical Pete is a good example to illustrate that.   But, he is Flemish, which means that he has likely been more subject to (democratic, individualistic, maritime) 'anglo-saxon' influences.   And he probably has also had much more 'exposure' (both in Dutch and English) to my type of 'reasoning' (and your type of humor) than Kappert has.  But, I realise that my persuasive powers are too limited to undo the impact of a quarter century of naive-left education and of Der-Spiegel-type of 'confusion' and wishful thinking. I am just planting seeds, hoping for a distant harvest, and trying to limit the damage that inevitably will result from "la trahison" by our generation's Western elites.

P.S. Explain "Psittacine", please? And do not say that it has to do with British 'humor'.


re: Psittacine K'

@ marcfrans


Honestly, do you seriously believe that you can convince Citizen K' that it is we who need to be wary of China , and not the other way around? 

Papagei # 3

@ Kappert


1) The operative word in your first sentence is "shouldn't".  What do you mean by that?

--  If you mean that China is doing what others are doing, that is just a statement of fact.  And, of course, no one is going to stop China doing that.  The article didn't say that China "shouldn't", it simply warned Western politicians to take note of the ongoing fact.  And that China is a great potential threat is just common sense (see further).

-- From a moral perspective, of course, there is no 'equivalence' between a genuine democracy being well-armed, and a totalitarian political system being well-armed.  They could not possibly have the same long-term intentions or purposes for that build-up.  To put it very simply to you: America's military strength does NOT threathen in any way, say, Canada's territory nor Mexico's, because such 'intentions' are inconceivable for the American public or Congress.  And the Canadian and Mexican publics know that. They are not afraid of US intentions in that regard. By contrast, China's neighbors know better than you.  In my lifetime China has occupied neighboring Tibet, it has grabbed parts from India (and Pakistan) and Vietnam, it has 'forcibly' taken over Hong Kong (against H-K's will), and it has (very recently!!) passed a law that says explicitly that Taiwan must be taken over one way or another. Finally, while China has had various border 'troubles' with Russia over the years, it has been 'dissuaded' by Russia's nuclear arsenal.    

2) I would have thought that you, as a German, would better understand than most how totalitarian regimes are 'bound' to operate.  It is not difficult to foresee that China is going to face major economic and ecological problems in the foreseeable future.  You also know that the old communist ideology is no longer working nor believable, and has been replaced by 'nationalism'.  The Politbureau seeks legitimacy for its power monopoly on the basis of (A) wealth creation (via 'market capitalism') and (B) ethnic (Chinese) pride promotion.  The latter is clearly reflected in the constant emphasis on ethnic unity of 'all Chinese' and on "1 China", the treatment meeted out to Taiwan (a wealthy democracy of 25 million people), and the occasional anti-Japanese demonstrations (and violence) organised inside China when it suited the Politbureau's purposes, etc..

I hope that you now have a better understanding of Chinese "imperialism".  Think of it as an iceberg.  Only a small part is visible at any time.  Whether the whole becomes  visible will essentially depend on when the balance of military power has changed sufficiently.  You must judge the 'Blue water Navy' in that context. And remember, China is a large powerful country, with an authoritarian regime and nondemocratic culture, THAT NURSES 'HISTORICAL GRIEVANCES' assiduously. What does history teach about that? You should know since Europeans always claim to have such great 'education systems'.


P.S. The attitude vis-a-vis Taiwan would be comparable to say Germany today regularly threatening Austria and/or Switserland with another 'Anschluss', whether they like it or not, and passing a law in the Bundestag (by general acclamation) commanding the Executive (Chancellor) to implement it as soon as possible.            


... for your clarification.
“That China is a great potential threat is just common sense” does not even state Jane's Magazine, but BJ has its own certainty. As regard to the 'moral perspective', I find it almost ridiculous to claim that the U.S.' “military strength does NOT threaten in any way “ or any person, you should add and count the casualties in Central America, Middle East and East Asia over the last 50 years. And 'public and Congress' do support military interventions as far as I know. I'm not so sure, whether Canadian and Mexicans 'are not afraid of US intentions', you may read contrary opinions in newspapers.
China ended a 40-years 'independence' of Tibet by abolishing feudalism (please compare the rate of analphabetism under Tibetan and Chinese rule), the frontier with India (Sikkim) and Pakistan (Kashmir) is not disputed any more, which Vietnamese parts are occupied by China is not of my knowledge. China ended the colonization of Hongkong and Macau – no protests against that, and likes to integrate Taiwan, which is a question of time.
To fetch the 1968 Ussuri incidents with the Soviet Union is out of context.
If you compare the behaviour of U.S. treatment of economic and ecological problems, China hardly can do worse. I agree that the 21st century tendency of 'nationalism' is a threat to humanity, although I assume that Taiwan, which you call a democracy, promotes more nationalistic ideas that mainland China. Referring to anti-Japanese manifestations should evidence that in Japanese schoolbooks the brutal occupation of China by Japanese forces is practically omitted, a fact which provoked the demonstrations.

So your lecture did not convince me of any 'Chinese imperialism'. What I lament is the upgrading of military forces world-wide, which is a clearly indication of 'human intelligence'. I cannot detect 'historical grievances' with would be altered or triggered by some Chinese U-Boots in the Chinese Sea.

I prefer not to comment on the European education system.

Your comparison China/Taiwan with Germany/Austria has no foundation. Nevertheless, Austria (ruled by the Nazi-party) joined Germany in 1938. Perhaps, in near future, Taiwan (ruled by pragmatic democrats) will join China.

@ marcfrans

You are totally right, but I couldn't avoid thinking about the last time China had a navy which dwarfed all navies in the world combined. The emperor ordered it to be destroyed and all records burned with the ships. He didn't want foreign influences to seep into his empire.
Today those foreign "influences" translate into cash which creates their wealth accumulation and guarantees party-survival. A major conflict, although unavoidable with Russia, would set them back for decades.


Funny statement: the destruction of warships in the early 16th century is regarded by traveller as a threat?? And he seen 'unavoidable' conflicts, which would set them (not us, of course) back for decades. Weird.

@ kappert

Your typical comment to me makes no sense whatsoever.
Where did I say that the burning of the ships was a threat?
The unavoidable conflict will be with Russia over Siberia. It will practically decimate Russia , put China decades back and makes living in Europe uncomfortable for decades. Which part is difficult to understand here?

Papagei # 2

@ Kappert

1) "Blue water navy" means such a navy that it enables power projection beyond coastal waters across the world's oceans.

2) What do you mean by "smaller" than China?  Smaller in terms of what?  Land, population, economy, etc...

-- The US and Russia have such a navy today. 

-- The British have it too (the 'Falklands' proved that not so long ago). 

-- The French have it to a very limited extent (certainly in the Mediterranean).  Australia has it also to a limited extent in the South Pacific. Both have used it on several occasions in recent times.

-- Japan has started 'working' on it, (a) partly because China is increasingly threathening some Japanese southern islands+plus disputed southern islands+ Taiwan, (b) partly because Russia still occupies most of the Japanese northern Kurile islands (grabbed at the end of WW2, and presently being 'negotiated' about again), and (c) partly because Japan increasingly realises that it will be 'politically' impossible for the the US to continue to defend Japan and South Korea unless they help share the burdens of containing 'nationalistic' totalitarians in the rest of Asia (e.g. Japan is currently refuelling US/NATO ships off the coast of Pakistan that are involved in Afghanistan).

-- India and South Korea are probably moving in the same direction for a variety of reasons.  Others may as well. 

For your information, no EXTERNAL power in the foreseeable future is threathening China's territorial integrity, although Vietnam and India have 'valid' grievances in that regard.  By contrast, China poses a clear and potent threat for several countries in its neighborhood, and perhaps beyond.

Thanks for clarification

You name 8 countries which already possess such oceanwide navy, so I don't see why China shouldn't move in the same directions as these 'world polices'. "China poses a clear and potent threat for several countries in its neighborhood, and perhaps beyond." Could you explain that statement of Chinese imperialism?


@ Kappert

Why don't you try to answer the question, which was "Why does China need a Blue Water Navy?" instead of parroting naive-left media nonsense like a Papagei (parrot)?  Could it be that the past was so awful, that you simpy do not dare to look into the future anymore?  How then, could one prepare for the future, with one's head in the sand for current realities?   


Could you indicate me smaller countries than China that have "Blue Water Navy" (whatever THAT means)?


Huntsman in search of an(other) enemy! Maybe the U.S. should upgrade their modest état de guerre to fight 20% of humanity. Cheney and Rumsfeld would love this job to fundraise a new war of the century.

Oil shortage?

I think that in a situation that requires aggression towards China to get some oil, the West will consider this enemy of a totally different kind as the Arabs and decide to go dig oil for themselves in their own backyards, as there are Arctica, Greenland, Antarctica, Alaska, the sandy inlands of Canada, the coasts of Brazil etc etc etc etc etc etc etc ....

They did not do so because cheap wars against powerless enemies was cheaper thusfar.

Raised thoughts. You have more to share?

Ok, your opening got my attention, but the content left me wanting.  The topic you choose to discuss deserves more than a couple of paragraphs.  


I tend to agree with the questions raised, but I'd like some more information to digest.  Do you have any for me?


Lord, grant me the strength to change the things I can;

the serenity to deal with the things I cannot change;

and the wisdom to know the difference.