The Impact of Chinese Naval Modernization and the Future of the United States Navy

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O'Rourke, Ronald. The Impact of Chinese Naval Modernization and the Future of the United States Navy. New York: Nova, 2006. 106pp. $79

Well written, succinct, and timely, this balanced assessment of Chinese naval weaknesses and strengths offers specific technological development and procurement alternatives to inform Washington's decision making. O'Rourke is a naval issues analyst for the Congressional Research Service (CRS) of the Library of Congress. Specialists will want to consult his related product, China Naval Modernization: Implications for U.S. Navy Capabilities-Background and Issues for Congress. First published in November 2006, the latter report has been updated regularly. Each report contains details that the other does not.

Like its CRS counterpart, O'Rourke's present study draws on a variety of U.S. government analyses; congressional testimony; and articles from the media, think tanks, and academia. Additional details are provided in an appendix. Charged with presenting different points of view, with an emphasis on official analyses, O'Rourke cannot be held responsible for disagreements concerning the underlying assumptions or conclusions of his sources. It should also be emphasized that Beijing's continuing reluctance to offer detailed information on the purpose or scope of many aspects of its rapid military development both raises concerns in Washington and makes it difficult for policy makers there to rule out worst-case scenarios.

O'Rourke has explicitly chosen to focus his report by limiting the attention paid to such issues of potential relevance to the U.S. Navy as China's aerospace development. In light of recent significant Chinese achievements in this realm (including the acknowledged testing of an antisatellite weapon on 11 January 2007), however, such factors should perhaps be integrated into follow-on studies by O'Rourke and his colleagues. …