China may overtake Japan in naval power this year: report

Since Xi Jinping became China’s top leader, there has been a noticeable change in the country’s foreign policy, according to Duowei News, an outlet run by overseas Chinese.

Beijing has implemented a shift in the geopolitical focus of its global strategy, which has seen the relationship with the US and with the European Union displaced as first priority ties for the country. At the same time, China has strengthened its sea power, with many speculating that the power of the PLA Navy is set to overtake that of Japan in 2015.

At the end of November, as the US was scrambling to find a way to contain Russia, a low-profile but important meeting was being held in Beijing — the Central Conference on Work Relating to Foreign Affairs. At the meeting several leaders made key speeches that indicated a change in China’s external geopolitical strategy.

China is no longer putting the main emphasis on its ties with the US and the EU. It has instead shifted its focus to another group of countries: Russia and its other BRICS partners, Brazil, India and South Africa, in addition to its Asian neighbors and other developing countries.

In the official photograph taken of leaders at the recent APEC summit in Beijing, the position of US president Barack Obama clearly shows that he has fallen a few pegs in the estimation of China’s leadership. He was given a spot beside the wife of an Asian leader, whereas Putin stands together with Xi. This is of major symbolic significance in China. China is well aware of the geopolitical game being played by Washington and the strategy of the neoconservative faction in the US.

China and Japan’s positions reversed on naval power

In 2014, a Japanese research institute published a comparative report which said that in the event of war between China and Japan, the PLA Navy would sustain disastrous losses in the first few hours of the conflict. This is according to predictions made based upon Japan’s position as the second-strongest navy in the world after that of the US. However UK-based military affairs magazine Jane’s Defence Weekly has stated that the PLA Navy will surpass Japan for the first time in 2015. In addition to increasing deployments to deal with the dispute over the Diaoyutai islands (Diaoyu to China, Senkaku to Japan) in the East China Sea, China is also stepping up its deployments in the South China Sea, where multiple countries contend over the resources around the seas reefs and archipelagos.

In addition to the country’s first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning; the JL-2 intercontinental-range submarine-launched ballistic missile and the DF-41 ICBM, both believed to be under development, China has started to build a guided missile destroyer, the Type 052D, nicknamed the Chinese Aegis, which suggests its naval power has grown to a size at which it can threaten Japan and even the US. In response, Japan will start to build two ships incorporating the Aegis combat system in 2015, as part of a plan to increase their numbers to eight ships by 2020.

In terms of Aegis combat system ships, China is already leading Japan. In 2014 the PLA had eight of the warships, comprising five Type 052C destroyers, one Type 052D destroyer and two Type 051C destroyers, more than Japan’s six; in 2015, China plans to add another Type 052C destroyer and a Type 052D along with two other destroyers.

In terms of the numbers game, China is gradually increasing its already substantial lead over Japan. China’s navy has 235,000 personnel, compared to the 45,800 of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force. In terms of the total number of warships, Japan, with 120, only has 12% of China’s 970. In 2013 alone, 27 ships were launched or commissioned in China, double the number in Japan.

Full article: China may overtake Japan in naval power this year: report (Want China Times)

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