Wandering China

An East/West pulse of China's fourth rise from down under.

An Aircraft Carrier of One’s Own [Foreign Policy]

With her sister ship now a floating integrated resort, the Varyag is reborn as Liaoning, almost eight years after she arrived in Chinese docks and 16 years after being bought for USD$20m.

September 25, 2012 marks her re-emergence as the symbolic flagship of Chinese maritime power at a time when China needs to assert its legitimacy to defend what it sees as national sovereignty.

Though in no position to match American naval projection due to its limited range and lack of combat readiness, it nevertheless marks a giant leap forward. Not quite a flexing of abrasive hard power yet, but certainly a symbolic referent for those on the Chinese side in Sino-Japanese tension, or potential focal point for Chinese nationalism.

Incidentally, the Chinese news reports are describing their carrier as 航母 (hang mu), a shortened version of 航空母舰 – literally translated – mother of the fleet.

Here is a CCTV report that paid particular attention on the mother ship’s combat readiness. It was most interesting hearing about the intense selection process for the crew. Unfortunately the 30min video is in Mandarin with no subtitles.

Further reading:

Light reading – Q&A about aircraft carrier “Liaoning ship” (PLA Daily in the People’s Daily, September 27, 2012)

Photo Gallery –  China’s first aircraft carrier “Liaoning” (China Military Online in the People’s daily, September 26, 2012)

Xinhua (September 26, 2012) News Analysis: Aircraft carrier-equipped China can better maintain world peace

China’s Ministry of Defense said the newly named Liaoning aircraft carrier would “raise the overall operational strength of the Chinese navy” and help Beijing to “effectively protect national sovereignty, security and development interests”. In fact, the aircraft carrier, refitted from a ship bought from Ukraine, will have a limited role, mostly for training and testing ahead of the possible launch of China’s first domestically built carriers after 2015, analysts say. ANALYSIS | China aircraft carrier a show of force vs Japan (Interacksyon, September 26, 2012)

Just as Liaoning the province was created when existing northeastern provinces and municipalities were merged and integrated into a more powerful whole in 1954-55, so too “Liaoning” the carrier integrates a mix of building blocks into a warship that has the potential to bolster China’s regional influence—and also to force China’s leaders to confront perhaps the most complicated naval diplomacy questions in the PRC’s history. Introducing the ‘Liaoning’: China’s New Aircraft Carrier and What it Means (China Real-time Report by the Wall Street Journal, September 25, 2012)

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An Aircraft Carrier of One’s Own
After much struggle, China finally has the massive naval vessel it always wanted.

Source – Li Tang, Xinhua, in Foreign Policy Magazine, 2012

China finally has its very own — ostensibly functional– aircraft carrier, named Liaoning. As Andrew Erickson and Gabriel Collins explain in a recent article for FP, the Chinese had to overcome multiple obstacles, and “All [those watching the Liaoning] must have felt the weight of history on their shoulders as they witnessed the unfulfilled ambitions of their civilian and military predecessors. This milestone was a long time coming.” The Liaoning was originally the Varyag, a Soviet vessel that was purchased by China from Ukraine. After years of retrofitting, as of Sept. 25 the Liaoning is finally entering service in the People’s Liberation Army Navy, but its capabilities are largely unproven and sea tests of the ship have stayed close to its home port in Dalian. Above, the Liaoning appears at the Dalian shipyard before being commissioned. (Foreign Policy, September 26, 2012)

Please click here to access the rest of the gallery.

Filed under: Beijing Consensus, Charm Offensive, Chinese Model, Diaoyu Fishing Boat Incident 2010, Domestic Growth, East China Sea, Foreign Policy Magazine, Government & Policy, Greater China, Influence, International Relations, japan, Liaoning, Mapping Feelings, Media, military, Nationalism, Peaceful Development, Politics, Public Diplomacy, Resources, Russia, Soft Power, Strategy, Tao Guang Yang Hui (韬光养晦), Technology, Territorial Disputes, The Chinese Identity, The construction of Chinese and Non-Chinese identities, Varyag, , , , , , , , ,

U.S. Navy Bets $42 Billion On Carriers In China’s Sights [Bloomberg]

The American military industrial complex does it again with 45 states involved in preserving the symbolism of American force projection. Check out the Aircraft Carrier Base Industrial Coalition here.

Force multiplier or force liability? Giant moving target or otherwise, this seafaring behemoth come will only encourage asymmetrical countermeasures. No lessons learnt from Star Wars mythology I suppose. All it takes is one inspired fighter to down a super star destroyer. China’s DF21 missile with a reported range of 1500km threatens to do just the same preventing the carriers from being deployed at an effective range of 300 nautical miles (Check out this full report from the Congressional Research Service, more on the DF21 on page 7)

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U.S. Navy Bets $42 Billion On Carriers In China’s Sights
By Roxana Tiron
Source – Bloomberg, published June 19, 20

The U.S. Navy is betting $42 billion on a new class of aircraft carriers, the world’s biggest and costliest warships ever, even as the Pentagon budget shrinks and China and Iran arm themselves with weapons to disable or destroy the behemoths.

The Navy says the new carriers — rising 20 stories above the water, 1,092 feet (333 meters) long, moving at 30 knots (35 miles per hour) with almost 5,000 Americans on board — can project U.S. power around the globe.

“A carrier is 4 1/2 acres of sovereign U.S. territory,” Captain Bruce Hay, a Navy pilot who helps set requirements for the new carrier, said in an interview. “An aircraft carrier is a piece of America, and we’re going to do what it takes to keep them relevant because a carrier is presence and American resolve all at one time.” Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Beijing Consensus, Bloomberg, Chinese Model, Influence, International Relations, military, Strategy, U.S., Varyag

The Significance of China’s First Aircraft Carrier [Epoch Times]

As China’s first aircraft carrier continues to indicate China’s strategic capacity and desires to defend its growing interests, the Epoch Times perhaps unsurprisingly, presents the case that China’s aircraft carrier is an object of/for domestic vanity and does not pose any threat in the short term to any country.

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The Significance of China’s First Aircraft Carrier
By Quincy Yu
Source – Epoch Times, published August 25, 2011

After an inaugural four-day trial at sea, China’s aircraft carrier returned to the mainland’s northeastern port of Dalian on Aug. 14. A reincarnation of the former Soviet carrier Varyag, it was acquired from Ukraine in 1998. The carrier is expected to be enlisted into the Chinese navy in August of next year, to be christened afterwards in October.

Communist mouthpieces Xinhua and CCTV were restrained in reporting the event, in sharp contrast to foreign media coverage. Photography failed to reveal any significant details, due to strategic concealment onboard. Some China experts commented that the communist regime’s launching of the revamped vessel carries more weight domestically than internationally.

China expert and commentator Wen Zhao told The Epoch Times that Beijing’s investing an exorbitant amount of taxpayers’ money in an aircraft carrier was intended to have more of an internal impact than an external one: to earn the praises of military fans and swell the hearts of nationalists. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Beijing Consensus, Charm Offensive, Chinese Model, Domestic Growth, Economics, Greater China, Influence, International Relations, Mapping Feelings, Media, military, Modernisation, Nationalism, Politics, Public Diplomacy, Resources, Strategy, The Chinese Identity, Varyag

Chinese carrier ‘a symbolic threat’ [The Age]

Is this ‘threat’ symbolic enough to be a catalyst for another form of Cold-War era game theory standoff with the U.S.? China has been ceaselessly accumulating soft power; it looks like hard power is equally important to them – an aircraft carrier projects a larger operating theatre and military influence, and for once the Chinese can project their strike ability beyond just regionally with what they deem ‘aircraft mother ships’. That says a lot.

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Chinese carrier ‘a symbolic threat’
Viola Gienger and Tony Capaccio
Source – The Age, published April 13, 2011

Former Soviet-era aircraft carrier Varyag being refurbished by China. Photo – The Age

China’s reconstruction of a Soviet-era aircraft carrier, while not a concern to the US, is raising alarms in the region as a symbol of the Asian nation’s military expansion, US Navy Admiral Robert Willard says.

China’s state news agency, Xinhua, posted photos of the carrier, the Varyag, on a website last week. In a photo caption, Xinhua cited the military analysis magazine Kanwa Asian Defense Review in Canada as saying the ship will set sail this year. The timeline tracks with an estimate made two years ago by the US Office of Naval Intelligence.

Willard, the top US military commander in the Asia-Pacific region, said he was “not concerned” by the project. The carrier sat pier-side for years as China considered making it a tourist attraction before the reconstruction began, Admiral Willard said.

“We do expect that they will achieve what they are asserting, which is that perhaps this year it may go to sea,” Admiral Willard, who heads the US Pacific Command, said. “That’s a long way from developing an aircraft carrier capability.” Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Aviation, Beijing Consensus, Charm Offensive, Chinese Model, Communications, Domestic Growth, Influence, International Relations, Mapping Feelings, Media, military, Nationalism, Politics, Public Diplomacy, Soft Power, Strategy, Technology, The Age, The Chinese Identity, The construction of Chinese and Non-Chinese identities, U.S., Varyag

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