China's Navy Takes Great Leap Forward

By Magnuson, Stew | National Defense, April 2014 | Go to article overview

China's Navy Takes Great Leap Forward

Magnuson, Stew, National Defense

In February, two Chinese navy destroyers and a new amphibious vessel sailed through the Sunda Strait between the Indonesian islands of Java and Sumatra. Weeks later, they returned from exercises in the Indian Ocean by taking a more circuitous route through other straits in the island nation's exclusive economic zone. It was the first time Chinese navy vessels had sailed those waters.

These passages followed a similar first, when Chinese ships last summer went through the Soya Strait between Japan and Russia.

This summer, China is expected to send "three or four ships" to the annual Rim of the Pacific exercise organized by the U.S. Navy in Hawaii, according to Adm. Samuel J. Locklear III, U.S. Pacific Command commander.

"It's a big deal. It will be historic for them to come there and do that," he said at an Atlantic Council presentation.

China's navy is growing, analysts said. And it's not only the number of ships increasing. Modernization of its fleets is going hand in hand with new types of vessels including the stated goal of building indigenous aircraft carriers.

"China is building not simply a navy, but a broad based set of maritime denial capabilities that seem to be aimed not only at the United States, but which will inevitably effect its neighbors," said Dean Cheng, senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation.


Ronald O'Rourke, specialist in naval affairs at the Congressional Research Service, in a report released Feb. 28 wrote that "China's naval modernization effort also includes reforms and improvements in maintenance and logistics, naval doctrine, personnel quality, education and training and exercises."

It has a "modest, but growing capability for conducting operations beyond China's near-seas region," he added.

Cheng added that the nation's navy is relatively new to extended blue water operations away from home, but it has been gaining more experience while participating in anti-piracy patrols in the Gulf of Aden.

"They have been slowly learning how you sustain a naval force far away from home," Cheng said.

Elements of its program comprise a variety of anti-ship missiles--including what would be the first anti-ship ballistic missile if it is proven to work--new classes of submarines, manned aircraft, destroyers, frigates, corvettes and amphibious ships, O'Rourke said.

"Changes in platform capability have been more dramatic than changes in platform numbers," he added.

It should be expected that a nation such as China desires to improve its military in general, and its navy in particular, analysts said.

Jan van Tol, a retired Navy captain and now a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, said, "With China's steadily growing economic and political power going back decades now, it's not an unreasonable thing from their perspective to go out and modernize and perhaps extend their fleet."

It is updating ships that were built as far back as the 1950s, he said.

Cheng said China imports huge amounts of food, raw materials and energy sources. Its economic center of gravity is now mostly on the coast.

"We should not be surprised that a country that depends on the sea to sustain its economic life is going to develop a navy," Cheng said.

It needs to deploy a substantial blue water navy to protect sea lanes. "It's almost irrelevant to what the United States does. That the U.S. is the number-one most powerful navy in the world complicates China's life," Cheng added.

China's navy garnered a great deal of attention when it launched its first aircraft carrier, a secondhand ship built in Ukraine, and later announced plans to create an indigenous flattop fleet.

The Liaoning was commissioned in September 2012, is conventionally powered, has a full load displacement of 60,000 tons and may accommodate up to 30 fixed wing and rotary wing aircraft, O'Rourke's CRS report said. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

China's Navy Takes Great Leap Forward


Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

    New feature

    It is estimated that 1 in 10 people have dyslexia, and in an effort to make Questia easier to use for those people, we have added a new choice of font to the Reader. That font is called OpenDyslexic, and has been designed to help with some of the symptoms of dyslexia. For more information on this font, please visit

    To use OpenDyslexic, choose it from the Typeface list in Font settings.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search


    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.