Getting Real about China’s Naval Modernization

Mr. Ronald O'Rourke

Mr. Ronald O’Rourke (Photo credit: USNavalInstitute)

China Naval Modernization: Implications for U.S. Navy Capabilities–Background and Issues for Congress
Ronald O’Rourke

Congressional Research Service
December 10, 2012

It is a part of Chinese grand strategy to keep its potential enemies, its friends, and even its own people guessing as to the capabilities and intentions of the People’s Liberation Army. While most of the world has discovered through bitter experience that the resulting uncertainty is inherently destabilizing, China remains wedded to opacity at the deepest levels of doctrine.

In U.S. politics, this gives license to hawks of all stripes to rally for greater defense spending even as it permits more cautious voices to claim that China is a paper tiger. The resulting debates ensure that there can be no coherent response until it is too late.

Ronald O’Rourke is one of a handful of experts who can take these politically-charged issues and bring them down to the level of actual operational challenges. His simple recitation of the facts will provide few doves with any degree of comfort, but it is a relief to see the facts stripped of rhetoric.

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