Accuracy in Media

China has long been on the horizon as the U.S.’s hegemonic upset in
East Asia, both economically and militarily. Indeed, foreign policy
experts have extended arguments over how the U.S. should approach
China—as our biggest ally, or our biggest enemy? The recent military
development within the People’s Republic of China (PRC) illuminates the
Chinese understanding of the friend/foe dichotomy, and indicates their
future goals towards Asian supremacy.

Militarists tout aircraft carriers as the next step in China’s
development into America’s worst nightmare. The U.S. owns and operates
about eleven aircraft carriers, multi-billion dollar investments that
ensure significant American muscle in foreign seas by guaranteeing
extended American aviation capabilities. Were the Chinese to develop
their own aircraft carriers, they would then be capable of maintaining
a substantial military presence in the deep seas currently under
American control. This would prove troublesome to the bipolar dynamic
of the U.S.-China relationship.

Ron O’ Rourke, naval analyst for the Congressional Research Service,
wrote the following in his report, “China Naval Modernization:
Implications for U.S. Navy Capabilities- Background and Issues for

“The issue of whether and when China might deploy one or more aircraft
carriers, and what the design and capabilities of Chinese aircraft
carriers might be, has been a topic of discussion among observers for
the last several years. Developments since mid-2005 have suggested to
some observers that China now intends to complete the unfinished
ex-Russian carrier Varyag,
which China purchased from Russia several years ago, and place it into
service in the near future, possibly as an aviation training ship.”

Richard Fisher Jr., of the International Assessment and Strategy Center, reported the following:

“Interestingly, a U.S. source that recently spoke with high PLA Navy
officers relayed to the IASC that these officers stated that China
would eventually build four to six aircraft carriers. In 2007 Chinese
officials have been more willing to acknowledge their ambitions to
build large aircraft carriers, an ambition that had previously been
consistently denied. China is known to have had extensive contact with
Russian aircraft carrier design and component manufacturing companies,
and is now refurbishing the former Russian/Ukrainian carrier Varyag in Dalian harbor. . In addition, PLA Navy officers have visited the French nuclear carrier, Charles de Gaulle, which may also influence China’s eventual choice of carrier size and configuration.”

China is also in the process of purchasing carrier-capable aircraft
from Russia. O’ Rourke reported that “China reportedly has been
negotiating with Russia on the purchase of 48 to 50 carrier-capable
Su-33 Flanker D naval fighters. The Su-33, a derivative of the Su-27
design, can operate from aircraft carriers using a ski-jump ramp and is
capable of in-flight refueling. Some sources state that China may
create a carrier-capable version of its J-10 fighter.”

To sum up, China is currently in the process of developing aircraft
carriers, something it said it wouldn’t do, and purchasing naval
fighters to outfit said carriers. Meanwhile, America continues to
debate whether the unapologetically communist country is an ally,
instead of preparing to be able to counteract clearly antagonistic
Chinese developments.

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