China, with its acquisition of a new stealth frigate, has not only further stamped its class as a naval power but also strengthened its maritime defense capability amid territorial disputes with its Asian neighbors.
China has territorial disputes with Japan, Taiwan, Vietnam, Philippines and Brunei.
The ship which was identified as a “Type 056 stealth frigate” was turned over to the Chinese navy on February 25. China has vastly improved on its shipbuilding capability in the past years and it is their intention to build more ships to strengthen their navy and its capability.
The mandate given to the armed forces was to improve their fighting ability in 2013 and focus closely on the objective of being able to fight and win Maritime battles.
It remains as a question whether such buildup of the navy of the most populous country in the world is a defensive posture or a preparation for “something else.”
President Hu Jintao, “during the Communist Party congress in November said that China should become a maritime power. On his part, Navy commander Wu Shengli stressed the importance of being able to master equipment and capabilities in the middle of territorial disputes among its neighbor.
The growing naval power of China enables it to protect its own economic interests in the world. The Chinese have joined in 2008 an international flotilla of warships from the U.S., Britain, France and Russia that patrol the Gulf of Eden to protect commercial ships from Somali pirates. Since then China’s navy have been sending their vessels not only for the sake of international cooperation but to ensure that Chinese commercial ships have protection.
China, the country with the most number of military personnel, is undoubtedly fast becoming a naval power. China’s neighbors, especially those having maritime disputes with them, could not help but be deeply concerned with such rapid naval development.
China’s Rise as a Naval Force
From a navy heavily dependent on Soviet expertise, personnel and technology during the early years of Mao Zedong ’s reign, China’s naval force has become the second largest naval service in the world with the U.S. being the largest.
Ironically, China has seemingly surpassed the naval capability of their mentors.
In an article, Yang Chun-pin cited a report published in the Russian National Defense Magazine on September 2011 saying that, “The nations in the Asia-Pacific region lag behind the United States in acquiring weapons for naval use, but China’s rapid build-up o might pose a threat to the U.S.”
From its crude beginning of wooden junks fitted with mountain guards, Nowadays, China’s navy boasts full of nuclear missile submarines. There are also principal surface combatants, coastal warfare, amphibious and mine warfare ships.
The U.S. is constantly monitoring the developments in China’s navy for the Chinese have become a threat to them. China’s military modernization efforts in general have become a key issue in U.S. defense planning.
Chinese Bullying Through its Powerful Navy?
With its military might that only the U.S. and Russia could challenge, China, in its existing territorial disputes with some of its Asian neighbors, is perceived to be applying bullying tactics.
Beijing is at odds with Manila over the Scarborough Shoal. The said shoal may be just an uninhabited rocky atoll that is but being disputed by the two claimants for its is believed that underneath it lies an ocean of oil and gas deposits.
To assert its claim China sent its ships to the contested area, much to the chagrin of the Philippine Navy. The strongest response the government in Manila could have is seek the help of an arbitral tribunal of the United Nations.
The tug-of-war in the island of Diaoyu (in Chinese) and Sensaku (in Japanese) between China and Japan is also a cause of misunderstanding between the two contending parties.
China’s confidence in asserting its claim on the island undoubtedly stems from its increasing naval capability.