23 October 2013

China’s Naval Modernization and Implications for the United States

Craig Murray, Andrew Berglund, and Kimberly Hsu, China’s Naval Modernization and Implications for the United States,” U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission Staff Research Backgrounder, 26 August 2013.

In the late 1980s, China began a modernization program to transform the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy from a coastal force into a technologically-advanced regional navy. China’s acquisition of platforms, weapons, and systems has emphasized qualitative improvements, not quantitative growth, and centered on improving its ability to strike opposing ships at sea and operate at greater distances from the Chinese mainland. The PLA Navy has made significant progress, particularly since the late 1990s. Today, it is able to conduct high intensity operations in China’s immediate periphery and carry out low intensity operations around the world. Trends in China’s defense spending, research and development, and shipbuilding suggest the PLA Navy will continue to modernize through at least 2020. China’s increasingly advanced and adaptive naval capabilities – many of which appear to be designed to restrict U.S. freedom of action throughout the Western Pacific – could undermine U.S. interests and security in the region.

For selected sources cited in this report, see:

Andrew S. Erickson, “China’s Modernization of Its Naval and Air Power Capabilities,” in Ashley J. Tellis and Travis Tanner, eds., Strategic Asia 2012-13: China’s Military Challenge (Seattle, WA: National Bureau of Asian Research, 2012), 60-125.

Andrew Erickson and Gabe Collins, “Near Seas ‘Anti-Navy’ Capabilities, not Nascent Blue Water Fleet, Constitute China’s Core Challenge to U.S. and Regional Militaries,” China SignPost™ (洞察中国), No. 55 (6 March 2012).

Andrew Erickson and Gabe Collins, “China’s Real Blue Water Navy,” The Diplomat, 30 August 2012.

Andrew S. EricksonHow China Got There First: Beijing’s Unique Path to ASBM Development and Deployment,” Jamestown Foundation China Brief 13.12 (7 June 2013).

Andrew S. Erickson and Gabe Collins, “China Carrier Demo Module Highlights Surging Navy,” The National Interest, 6 August 2013.