Whether you’re ready or not, China is. No kidding.
China launched its first aircraft carrier Wednesday, sending the 1,000 foot ship out to sea for a series of exercises and trials.
China, which is about as secretive a nation as one can have in the internet age, alleges that the ship is for research and training. Even if so, the signs are there: China intends to upgrade and expand its military capacity to rival the United States. Rumors are that China intends to build three additional aircraft carriers in the coming years, once its research is completed.
The thought of a more heavily armed Chinese government has been a concern on the right for 20 years, particularly after the Soviet Union collapsed. That breakup left only so-called Communist China as a major potential threat to the West. While China has been much more open to cooperation with the United States since the Clinton presidency (his administration gave China trading advantages that it uses to this day), remnants of the “communism is the enemy” mentality still exist in America.
While the idea of China actually invading the United States is silly (all of our rednecks are armed to the teeth, and our military spending is still exponentially higher than theirs), they can engage the United States in one battle we may not wish to follow through with: Taiwan. For decades, China has claimed Taiwan as its own, while the United States has recognized the tiny island as a separate entity. China could use its new military muscle to re-engage the Taiwan issue
Not everyone is worried that China will grow to become a threat to the United States or the Western world.
“As a major economy, China on the one hand should take more responsibilities for the world and on the other hand, it has some new security interests that it needs to protect. Under the circumstances, China’s naval power needs to grow accordingly,” said Wang Shaopu, director of the Center for Pan-Pacific Studies at Jiaotong University in Shanghai.
Given the global economic circumstances, with Europe about to crash and burn and the United States not far behind, maybe China is right to build its military up. Clearly, there will be a need for greater international military spending as the United States winds down its two major wars and cuts defense budgets.
Perhaps this is a sign that China is interested in partnering with the United States and Europe to create a sort of quasi-world-government — a United Nations, but with teeth — that sort of runs the global affairs regime together, rather than in conflict. I suppose we’ll know their intentions if the Chinese start naming their ships things like “The Debt Collector” and “Pay Me Bernanke”.
The Obama administration has not come anywhere near the panic button on this issue, although they have indicated a desire for more openness about Chinese military intentions surrounding its buildup, including these carriers.
“China is not transparent as other countries, it’s not as transparent as the U.S. about its military acquisitions, its military budget. This causes concern,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told a news conference in Washington.
“We are prepared to be extremely transparent with regard to U.S. military positions and equipment, and we would like to have a reciprocal relationship with China,” she said.
Let’s hope they figure out how.