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Maritime Security Issues in Southeast Asia

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China: Expansion of Military Power in
the Asia-Pacific
Richard A. Bitzinger
Overview
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Drivers behind the expansion of Chinese military
power
Chinese naval developments, 2000Implications for Southeast Asia
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EEZ disputes
Spratlys and Paracels Disputes
International maritime routes
Chinese Military Modernization:
Drivers
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China’s quest for “great power” status: attempting to
gain “hard power” commensurate with growing “soft
power” (economic, cultural)
Create a sustainable expeditionary naval force
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Taiwan contingency: isolate island, invade and occupy (if
necessary), be capable of providing anti-access/area denial
(to U.S. forces seeking to come to Taiwan’s defense)
Protect trade routes
Press territorial and EEZ claims in East and South China
Seas
PLA Navy: From Brown to Green to
Blue
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From coastal defense to open-ocean capabilities
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Expand its operating perimeter to the first island chain
(Japan-Taiwan-Philippines)…
…to the second island chain (Guam-Indonesia-Australia)
Eventually be able project sustainable force into the whole
of the Western Pacific and the Indian Ocean
Chinese Defense Spending
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In 2009, Chinese defense budget totaled US$70.2b
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Defense spending has quintupled since 1997 (after
inflation)
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Not counting possible extra-budgetary funds
Second-highest military spender in the world (overtook
Japan in 2007, UK in 2008)
Equipment (procurement + R&D) budget (about onethird of total spending) = ~US$23.5
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Compared to 1997: US$3.1 billion
PLA Navy, 2009
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26 destroyers
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51 frigates
58 diesel-electric submarines
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Inc. 4 Russian Sovremennyy-class DDGs
Inc. 12 Russian Kilo-class submarines
8 nuclear-powered submarines
~100 corvettes and FACs
~27 amphibious warfare ships
Chinese Naval Developments, 2000-09
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Major surface combatants:
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Submarines:
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6 DDGs (Type-051C, Type-052B, Type-052C)
12 FFGs (Type-053H3, Type-054, Type-054A)
Also acquired 2 Sovremennyy-class DDGs from Russia
20 diesel-electric subs (Song-, Yuan-class)
2 Type-093 SSN, 2 Type-094 SSBNs
Also acquired 8 Kilo-class subs from Russia
Expeditionary warfare:
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Recently launched first Type-071 LPD (800 troops, two helicopters,
two LCACs), could build up to 8 in this class
LHD-type ship also speculated
Source: Sinodefense.com
New Chinese Warships
Type-052C
Type-054A
New Chinese Warships, cont’d
Yuan-class
Type-094
Type-071
A Chinese Aircraft Carrier?
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Growing speculation that China will soon acquire at
least one – and perhaps as many as six – aircraft
carriers
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Re-commission Varyag? (scrapped and sold to China in
2001)
Build indigenously designed carrier(s)?
Could have first carrier group by 2020
More than symbolic: multiple Chinese CVBGs is a
new, much more aggressive maritime strategy
Costly, time-consuming and risky, however
A Notional Chinese Aircraft Carrier
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50,000-60,000 tons
Ski-jump deck, conventionally powered
Fly either Su-33, MiG-29, or navalized J-10 fighters
PLAN Aviation: New Attack Aircraft
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Su-30MKK2 (24 a/c): multirole
JH-7A: antiship, ground attack
Growing Chinese Presence – and
Assertiveness – in Southeast Asia
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Growing economic stakes involving Southeast Asian
SLOCs
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Increasingly pressing regional territorial claims
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Trade
Energy supplies
Spratly Islands
Paracel Islands
South China Sea EEZ: oil, gas, fisheries
Overall, greater assertiveness in region in promoting
its interests – and China has the increased military
capabilities to back this up
Critical SLOCs
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Malacca/Singapore, Lombak, Makkasar, Sunda
straits
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Traffic through South China Sea is 3X Suez Canal and 5X
Panama Canal
SEA SLOCs are critical to China
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Trade: China is increasingly dependent on trade, and 25%
of the world’s trade passes through Southeast Asian
waterways
Energy supplies: 60% of China’s oil comes through
Southeast Asian SLOCs
Oil Trade Flows Through SEA
Waterways
South China Sea: Overlapping
Territorial Claims
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Spratlys: Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei, Philippines, Vietnam,
Taiwan
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1995: China-Philippines clashed over Mischief Reef in Spratlys
Feb 2009: RP Congress passed “Archipelagic Baselines Act,”
reiterating Philippine territorial claims in the Spratly
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Led to chill in Sino-Filipino relations
Paracels: competition with Vietnam
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1998: China-Vietnam clashed over Johnson Reef
Increased Chinese naval patrols and military exercises
Chinese pressure on Western oil companies not to participate in
offshore energy projects with Vietnam in waters claimed by China
Attempt to pressure Vietnam into agreeing to joint exploitation of
oil and gas reserves in Paracels?
China in the Spratly Islands
EEZ Enforcement
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EEZs in Southeast Asia often overlap and clash
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Considerable economic interests at stake: oil, gas, fisheries
(often only potential resources – still considerable
unexplored territory)
China claims most of South China Sea
Chinese Buildup in Southeast Asia
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Hainan Island
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Woody Island
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Yulin (Sanya) naval base: greatly expanded in recent years
Type-052C DDGs
Nuclear sub base
JH-7A attack aircraft
Lengthened runway, added fuel depots
Capable of operating Su-30MKK fighters
Spratlys
“String of Pearls” Argument
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Chinese assistance in building deep-water port in
Sittwe, Myanmar
Helping to build navy base in Gwandar, Pakistan
Provide PLAN with base access through the littorals
of the Indian Ocean to the Persian Gulf
China: Increasing Resort to Force?
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Enforcement can escalate into violence
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Chinese harassment of USNS Impeccable in South China
Sea, March 2009: Beijing claimed that the Impeccable was
engaged in “illegal activities” in its EEZ
Beijing also announced that it would send one of its largest
patrol boats to protect its vessels in the Paracel and Spratly
Islands and to “demonstrate Beijing’s sovereignty over
China’s islands”
Increasing potential for South China Sea to become
a zone of conflict?
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At the very least, a more important chokepoint
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