THE POWER ARC OF THE CHINESE NAVYPower and Interest News Report
takes a look at the much debated rise of Chinese naval might and comes away...not terribly impressed
"The submarine fleet will have the same duties as surface vessels, but is also expected to be assigned the hard task of facing the "traditional" Taiwanese adversary and, supposedly, coping with U.S. battle groups. In fact, it appears that Beijing discarded the possibility of deploying a limited number of aircraft carriers (which would appear excessive in relation to other regional navies) since they would have little hope of prevailing in an engagement with U.S. naval forces. This explains why China's aircraft carrier planning and construction is slowing in pace. Indeed, Beijing now prefers a well-stocked fleet of diesel submarines and nuclear powered submarines to have the difficult role of exerting some deterrence against American ships in case of a crisis.
Following this path, China will rise to a respectable level of underwater power, partially repeating the Soviet strategy during the Cold War. However, unlike the past Soviet submarine fleet (essentially dedicated to attacking N.A.T.O. forces and protecting bastions full of SSBNs), Chinese submarine forces seem to be assigned the role of supporting surface forces -- in their attempts to control sea lines of communication, with the additional mission of trying to exert some form of counter-power against U.S. forces."
What would be a feasible and economical naval deterrent to American intervention in the Taiwan Strait in the eyes of China's Politburo ? My guess, is the ability to sink the smaller PACOM ships and inflict multithousand casualties before going down ( literally) to defeat. Nailing a destroyer or carrier would be key to Beijing's internal political calculus- to do enough damage to claim "victory" the way the Egyptians parlayed their better than expected military performance in the Yom Kippur War into a " win". Ideally, the Chinese would like to leverage land based assets in combination with their upgraded fleet to maximize the force they could bring to bear against the Navy but they will settle for simply causing any American president to think twice before engaging China over Taiwan.
In reality, these new ships are simply political chips for raising stakes. Should the status of Taiwan get pushed to the point of war then China has lost the game and its leadership will be trying desperately to save enough face to ride out the crisis without a revolution breaking out. Not that we should cheer because even a brief, low-casualty, Sino-American war will rock the global economy like nothing we have seen since 1929