Wary of Trump Un­pre­dictabil­ity, China Ramps up Naval Abil­i­ties

China to unveil de­fence bud­get for this year at next month’s an­nual meet­ing of par­lia­ment

The Economic Times - - Around The World -

for this year at next month’s an­nual meet­ing of par­lia­ment, a close­ly­watched fig­ure around the re­gion and in Washington, for clues to China’s in­ten­tions.

China sur­prised last year with its low­est in­crease in six years, 7.6%, the first sin­gle-digit rise since 2010, fol­low­ing a nearly un­bro­ken twodecade run of dou­ble-digit jumps. de­vel­oped rapidly under Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping’s am­bi­tious mil­i­tary mod­erni­sa­tion.

It com­mis­sioned 18 ships in 2016, in­clud­ing mis­sile de­stroy­ers, corvettes and guided mis­sile frigates, ac­cord­ing to state me­dia. Barely a week goes by with­out an an­nounce­ment of some new piece of equip­ment, in­clud­ing an elec­tronic re­con­nais­sance ship put into ser­vice in Jan­uary.

Still, the PLA Navy sig­nif­i­cantly lags the United States, which op­er­ates 10 air­craft car­ri­ers to China’s one, the Soviet-era Liaon­ing.

Xu Guangyu, a re­tired ma­jor gen­eral in the Peo­ple’s Lib­er­a­tion Army now se­nior ad­viser to the gov­ern­ment-run China Arms Con­trol and Dis­ar­ma­ment As­so­ci­a­tion, said Chi­nawas­keenlyaware­oftheUSa­bil­ity to project power at sea. “It’s like a marathon and we’re fall­ing be­hind. We need to step on the gas,” Xu said. Trump has vowed to in­crease the US Navy to 350 ships from the cur­rent 290 as part of “one of the great­est mil­i­tary buildups in Amer­i­can his­tory”, a move aides say is needed to counter China’s rise as a mil­i­tary power. “We’ve known this is a 15-20year project and ev­ery year they get closer to be­ing a blue-wa­ter navy with global as­pi­ra­tions,” said a US ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cial.

China’s Liaon­ing air­craft car­rier with ac­com­pa­ny­ing fleet con­ducts a drill in an area of South China Sea

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