According to Chinese sources, China is building a new aircraft carrier which will be a marvel of war technology. This is not the first time that Chinese military hardware innovation has surprised military analysts with its formidable technical excellence. Notwithstanding that, the new marine war machine is much more significant, and scary, than any previous Chinese achievement except production of the nuclear bomb. As this carrier’s technical capability and political implications of its deployment are interrelated, I would like to briefly review them both.
The catamaran-like twin hulls of this vessel make it more stable and faster than any monohull carrier. Its twin flight decks have more space for takeoff and landing, and allow stationing more aircraft than its counterparts in any country. It can carry nuclear submarines between its hulls. The list of its superior technical features is virtually endless. The envy of engineers and military specialists alike, the new carrier moves China into the ranks of technical superpowers, and narrows the gap with the United States.
The political significance of these carriers is enormous. China plans to deploy six of them around the globe, including one in the Mediterranean. The Chinese Communist government insists that its military buildup is for defence purposes only, which sounds rather preposterous, as the primary mission of such a carrier is not defence, but assault.
Until now, the Chinese war machine has been inferior to that of the US. China has lacked the US’ advanced technology, and Chinese strategic concepts were not on a par with America for the same reason. For example, China has not had fully computerised battle management, which relies heavily on information obtained from satellites and other realtime acquisition sources. The Chinese are quickly closing the gap, however. China has already declared that by 2020 it will have complete global satellite coverage with 35 satellites, meeting all its civil and military needs and challenging the American GPS system.
The world doesn’t know the real intentions of Communist China; we can only guess. To feed its rapid economical progress, China needs natural resources from all over the globe. Its enormous population and improvement of living standard create problems more rapidly than the government can solve them. Its military progress, and particularly strategic hardware of the offence, are the reflection of China’s global interest and aggressive long term strategy.
China will soon have the capacity to intimidate all nations, including the US. It already has more hardware than any single state. It has an unlimited supply of educated, trained soldiers. With very short notice its army can mobilise more personnel than all of NATO combined.
Whatever happens in the future will likely shock the world. Empires come and go. Will China be the next one?