China’s big military ship building spree to guard its aircraft carriers

South China Morning Post – Dozens of destroyers and frigates are thought to be in the works but it will take more than hardware to make the plan work, observers say.

This Is Our Best Look Yet At China’s Z-20F Seahawk Clone Toting Air-To-Surface Missiles

War Zone – A new, much clearer picture has emerged of a Chinese Z-20F helicopter, the navalized variant of the Harbin Z-20, carrying what appears to be a load of eight live KD-10 air-to-ground/surface missiles.

China as a Composite Land-Sea Power: A Geostrategic Concept

CIMSEC – In this study, Senior Fellow Toshi Yoshihara and Research Fellow Jack Bianchi argue that a deep study of China’s weaknesses as they relate to its worldwide ambitions is required to formulate an effective allied response. These weaknesses offer insights into the costs that Beijing will have to pay to go global. Importantly, the United States and its close allies enjoy agency over certain Chinese weaknesses, furnishing them leverage that, if exercised, could yield strategic dividends. The report concludes with a range of allied options that exploit China’s weaknesses to constrain and complicate the PLA’s global expansion.  

By air and sea: China’s two-pronged strategy to grind Japan down over disputed islands

South China Morning Post – Beijing has ramped up its military and coastguard presence near the islands to get Tokyo to acquiesce on the disputed chain, analysts say

China’s top warship maker builds new shipyard, phase I project to complete by 2023

Global Times – China’s major manufacturer of amphibious assault ships, amphibious landing ships and frigates on Monday started constructing an advanced new shipyard in Shanghai, a move analysts said on Tuesday would boost China’s technical level and efficiency in building such vessels.

China Maritime Report No. 12: Sansha City in China’s South China Sea Strategy: Building a System of Administrative Control

China Maritime Studies Institute – China established Sansha City in 2012 to administer the bulk of its territorial and maritime claims in the South China Sea. Sansha is headquartered on Woody Island. The city’s jurisdiction includes the Paracel Islands, Zhongsha Islands, and Spratly Islands and most of the waters within China’s “ninedash line.” Sansha is responsible for exercising administrative control, implementing military-civil fusion, and carrying out the day-to-day work of rights defense, stability maintenance, environmental protection, and resource development. Since 2012, each level of the Chinese party-state system has worked to develop Sansha, improving the city’s physical infrastructure and transportation, communications, corporate ecosystem, party-state institutions, and rights defense system. In effect, the city’s development has produced a system of normalized administrative control. This system ultimately allows China to govern contested areas of the South China Sea as if they were Chinese territory.

Chinese Submarine Drone Discovered Near Gateway To Indian Ocean

Naval News – The latest underwater drone found by fishermen may indicate that China is surveying Indonesian waters. This may have strategic implications if it helps Chinese Navy submarines and warships enter the Indian Ocean.

Chinese Navy Expanding Bases Near South China Sea

USNI News – The Chinese Navy, formally known as the PLAN (People’s Liberation Army Navy), conducted a live-fire exercise several days ago over the South China Sea utilizing a newly expanded naval base.

China’s Third Type 075 LHD Taking Shape In Shanghai

Naval News – Photos by Chinese ship spotters show that China’s third amphibious assault ship, a Landing Helicopter Dock (LHD) known as Type 075, is at an advanced stage of construction and will be ready for launch in early 2021.

China-US tensions keep PLA sailors at sea for an extra four months in 2020

South China Morning Post – As tensions between China and the United States escalated in the Asia-Pacific region this year, some People’s Liberation Army (PLA) sailors were required to spend almost four months extra at sea

China’s Global Navy—Today’s Challenge for the United States and the U.S. Navy

US Naval War College Review – James Fannell writes that the PRC continues to build a naval force that, if left unchallenged, will be increasingly capable of achieving sea control in the global maritime commons as early as 2030, and potentially achieving sea superiority by 2049.

South China Sea: PLA’s new dry dock in Hainan big enough for Type 002 aircraft carriers, analysts say

South China Morning Post – A dry dock being built at China’s naval complex on the island province of Hainan in the South China Sea will be big enough to accommodate the country’s new generation of aircraft carriers, military analysts say.

H-6K variant seen at China-Russia strategic patrol

Global Times – A new variant of China’s H-6K bomber, which experts said on Wednesday is more powerful than the original version, was spotted in the second joint aerial strategic patrol by the air forces of China and Russia on Tuesday. 

Command and Control in U.S. Naval Competition with China

RAND – As China pursues its rise as a global power, it is incrementally orienting its People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy toward power projection missions. At the same time, the U.S. Navy is working to enhance its capabilities to conduct counter-power projection missions. Command and control (C2) in naval competition presents one lens with which to view these evolving missions. Mission command, a pillar of the U.S. Navy’s culture for centuries, is central to its execution of power projection missions: leaders throughout the command chain are disciplined, apprised of their commander’s intent, and empowered to make decisions and execute actions. Historically, the PLA Navy has utilized a C2 system that reflects the Chinese Communist Party’s authoritarian rule and overall culture, which is fundamentally different from that of the U.S. Navy. The PLA Navy operates under tightly managed C2 — better described as control and command — that allows for little delegation of authority or independent action. The U.S. Navy and the PLA Navy are both likely to face challenges as they shift to new maritime missions unless they adapt their existing concepts of C2. 

China Maritime Report No. 11: Securing China’s Lifelines across the Indian Ocean

Chinese Maritime Studies Institute – How is China thinking about protecting sea lines of communication (SLOCs) and maritime chokepoints in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) in times of crisis or conflict? Relying on Chinese policy documents and writings by Chinese security analysts, this report argues that three critical challenges limit the People’s Liberation Army Navy’s (PLAN’s) ability to project power into the region and defend access to SLOCs and chokepoints, particularly in times of crisis: (1) the PLAN’s relatively modest presence in the region compared to other powers, (2) its limited air defense and anti-submarine warfare capabilities, and (3) its limited logistics and sustainment infrastructure in the region.

U.S. Navy Submarine Fleet To Be Overtaken By China Before 2030

Naval News – The next ten years could see a major shift in the rankings however. Based on current plans and projections, the U.S. and China will trade places by 2030.

China launches ‘gray-zone’ warfare to subdue Taiwan

Reuters – Having crushed the resistance to its rule in Hong Kong, China is moving against Taiwan with irregular tactics meant to exhaust the island’s military – which is in bad shape to confront the threat. It’s unclear how the incoming Biden administration will respond.

South China Sea: how a Spratlys radar system could give the PLA an information edge

South China Morning Post – China’s sweeping communications network in the Spratlys will have a decisive role to play in Beijing’s crisis management plans to deal with its increasing tensions with the US in the South China Sea, according to military reports and analysts.

China’s first vessel-borne lightweight helicopter drone makes maiden flight

Global Times – China’s first domestically developed vessel-borne lightweight helicopter drone has recently made its maiden flight, its maker announced. It is designed to conduct maritime monitoring and identification tasks, and is expected to be used on board smaller vessels including corvettes and coast guard ships for missions like patrol and search and rescue, analysts predicted.

PLA anti-submarine warfare aircraft conducts depth charge attack drills, seen as deterrent to Taiwan secessionists

Global Times – In a rare report shared with media, an anti-submarine warfare aircraft of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) was shown dropping a new type of depth charge in a recent training exercise, demonstrating its capability to not only detect, but also launch attacks on submarines.

PLA naval escort taskforce conducts in-port replenishment in Djibouti

China Military Online – The comprehensive supply ship Dongpinghu (Hull 960) attached to the 36th escort taskforce of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy left the Port of Djibouti recently after more than 7 hours’ in-port replenishment. This is the first in-port replenishment of the taskforce since it set sail from China on September 3. And all the supplies of the in-port replenishment came from domestic China.

China Seems Ready For A Fight Over Taiwan

1945 – James Holmes writes that for decades China-watchers have debated what form a People’s Liberation Army (PLA) offensive against Taiwan might take. An onslaught seems to be coming

PLA commissions hospital ship at Nansha Islands, showcases regional presence

Global Times – The Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy recently commissioned a newly developed hospital ship, which will serve as a mobile medical force in the Nansha Islands in the South China Sea in missions including military and civilian medical support, international humanitarian aid and emergency rescue.