We see many articles in the West about PLAN’s rapid growth and the possibilities of the future Aircraft Carriers. There have been a lot of questions in the west about how China might use the new hardware. If this recent OpEd on Global Times is any indication, the discussion on this has not finished in China either.
In this piece, he started off by saying that China currently does not have a battling US for sea control, nor will it have it in the future. And if US keeps regarding China as its enemy in the Pacific Ocean, then that will bring calamity to the world.
He says that overt usage of Chinese navy in solving regional territorial issues or teaching US a small lesson may bring a stronger sense of national strength in the short run, but would result in anti-Chinese sentiment across the world. It will only end up scaring the neighbors. So, the usage of aircraft carrier must be careful. He also mentions that China should use carriers to strengthen the nation’s soft power through indirectly diffusing crisis around the world. China cannot achieve sea supremacy over US in the near future, not should it. It should increase national strength through all avenues. There is no reason for China not to have an aircraft carrier given its position as the only UN P5 nation to not have one. The question is how China can make the world feel more at ease about having carriers.
I think the most important part to note is that I really see no desire in Chinese public or even in the military for worldwide domination. Over the past few years, it is sensing a rapid growth in its national stature, so it is acting more boldly on international issues rather than being withdrawn. China has always claimed South China Sea as part of its sovereignty. It is only voicing these claims more loudly now that it is the world’s second largest economy.