China’s continued naval push.
New Capability And Reach Of China’s Navy: Strategic And Tactical Implications In South China Sea And Indian Ocean Region – Analysis
By Commodore RS Vasan IN Retd
The PLA-Navy continues to be in the news as China is determined to add to its growing maritime capability to build a blue water navy of form and substance. The addition of a new assets to the PLA on a regular basis provides a power projection capability not just within the confines of the South China Sea where it has territorial claims contested by other littorals in the region., but also in the in the Indian Ocean. The recent assertive maneuvers by the US Navy in consonance with the Freedom of Navigation Operations (FONOPS) has not been a source of comfort for China. Likewise, the efforts of Philippines to internationalise the South China Dispute by taking the case to ICJ has not endeared it to China which did not want any embarrassment.
China on its part in a process to consolidate its position , has engaged in assiduously reinforcing its claims over reefs and Islands with in the nine dash line by building artificial Islands by enormous dredging around the disputed rocks/reefs to reinforce its territorial claims. There is no surprise that these Islands today have Runways, military garrisons, communication networks and other support infrastructure to help China to mount a credible C4ISR structure using the developed Islands which will act as links and hubs. This will also extend the reach of the PLA Navy and Air force elements. It is only a matter of time before these Islands are converted in to full-fledged forward posts in South China Sea. The fact that it also declared Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ) some three years ago in certain areas which were contested has only complicated the air situation and safety aspects.
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