Rear Admiral Yin Zhuo, who served as a national political adviser and sits on the navy’s advisory board on cybersecurity, told the state-run Xinhua News Agency that building aircraft carriers served to “defend China’s sovereignty of the islands and reefs, maritime rights and overseas interests”.
The defence ministry confirmed this year that China was building its second aircraft carrier, its first wholly home-made one.
Xinhua mentioned China’s growing interests overseas, including the increasing numbers of nationals travelling abroad and its direct investments. It also noted a need to protect overseas ethnic Chinese.
“Protecting the economic, political status and occupational safety of overseas Chinese is paramount to safeguarding China’s domestic economic development and its reform and opening-up,” Yin said, adding that such protection required strong naval power like aircraft carrier battlegroups.
The CNS Liaoning was recently spotted alongside 4 Type 052C/Type 052D destroyers, 2 Type 054A frigates, 1-2 Type 093 Shang nuclear submarine and 1 supply ship. Future carrier battle groups may include the Type 055 destroyer.
US Carrier Strike Group
A US carrier strike group is composed of roughly 7,500 personnel, an aircraft carrier, at least one cruiser, a destroyer squadron of at least two destroyers and/or frigates, and a carrier air wing of 65 to 70 aircraft. A carrier strike group also, on occasion, includes submarines, attached logistics ships and a supply ship.
The US Navy maintains 11 carrier strike groups, 10 of which are based in the United States and one that is forward deployed to Japan. They were all redesignations of former Carrier Groups (CarGrus) and Cruiser-Destroyer Groups (CCDGs). The Fleet Response Plan requires that six CSGs be deployed or ready for deployment within 30 days at any given time, while two additional groups must be ready for deployment within 90 days. The Navy typically keeps at least one CSG in the U.S. Fifth Fleet in Southwest Asia and one in the U.S. Seventh Fleet in the Western Pacific at all times. CSGs operate in the U.S. Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean, and U.S. Fourth Fleet around the South American continent as they transit to from other areas.
China now having outbound investments in 155 countries and 120 million citizens travelling abroad last year, Yin said aircraft carriers were needed to protect China’s overseas assets and its nationals abroad.
Yin said China’s aircraft carriers were to safeguard its rights and sovereignty, not to invade or threaten its neighbours. China’s doctrine of “proactive self-defence” would not change.
Ni Lexiong, a Shanghai-based military analyst, said Chinese aircraft carriers were unlikely to visit the South China Sea in the near future.
“Sending aircraft carriers would be a strong diplomatic statement. It is a demonstration of a country’s power and strong will to use force,” said Ni.
SOURCE – South China Morning Post, Wikipedia