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
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