Canberra: China is “exponentially” increasing its warship capability and has reportedly re-started mass production of guided-missile destroyers, local media reported.
The Chinese Communist party-controlled newspaper, the Global Times, reported on Tuesday that China would complete its military expansion and modernization by 2035, “including the development of a blue-water navy, to match the country’s international status and better defend its interests”.
A blue-water navy is one that traverses deep oceans and operates globally.
Naval News has reported that five type 052D destroyers, capable of launching long-range missiles, are being built, The Guardian reported.
John Blaxland, professor of international security and intelligence studies at the Australian National University’s strategic and defence studies centre, said China’s military expansion was “deeply worrying”.
“When you look at capability it is growing exponentially,” he said.
“It’s going from being a brown-water navy designed for close protection of China’s shores to a true blue-water navy.
“They are designed to assert China’s influence to match its economic growth, not just in the South China Sea, not just in the first island chain [which includes Taiwan], but also more expansively through the Indo Pacific and the Pacific Ocean.
“It’s growing the navy to bolster its economic heft with military muscle.”
New modelling from a US thinktank suggests China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) will dominate the region with a range of lethal warships and submarines by 2031, The Guardian reported.
The Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments said in less than a decade, “the PLA may have sufficient resources to boast five aircraft carriers and over 60 cruisers and destroyers,” as well as a new fleet of submarines.
As part of the modelling, teams of national security experts used a simulation of China’s $300bn defence budget to predict what Beijing would do.
The consensus was that China would become a global military threat beyond the current sabre-rattling about Taiwan with enough resources for expanded sea and air capability, The Guardian reported.