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Analysis of the views of the Chinese leadership for the modernization of the naval forces in the interests of national security
Material posted: Publication date: 23-04-2020

According to the views of the military-political leadership of the PRC, the naval forces of the PLA represent the basis for the conduct of hostilities at sea and able to solve assigned tasks: the defense of the coast from enemy attacks from the sea, prevent amphibious landings, protection of communications in coastal and near sea zones, as well as the protection of national interests independently or jointly with other armed forces.

Chinese military experts believe that the construction of a national Navy, special attention should be given to improving the operational and combat training of personnel, introduction of modern information technologies and technical equipment of the fleet.

Analysis of publications of experts and presentations by representatives of the military-political leadership of China shows that the development of the PLA Navy at the present stage is carried out in accordance with the General line of the Communist party, the main instruments for ensuring national security of the state, concepts of the use of the armed forces, and also taking into account possible threats and challenges that China may face in the future.


Picture – Chinese President XI Jinping during a visit to the crew of the submarine

In accordance with the General line of the CPC development of a Navy occurs in the framework: the protection of sovereignty, security and territorial integrity and ensure peaceful development of the country; achieve victory in the wars in conditions of Informatization; improving the level of combat readiness; the effective fulfilment of the tasks dealing with non-military nature; to deepen cooperation in the field of implementation of international commitments; application of the armed forces of the country in strict accordance with the law, the political setting of the CPC, the provisions of the statutes and other guiding documents.

In an official document of the PRC "White paper on national defense" from 2019 (previous publication "White paper on national defence" was published in 2017) outlines the basic principles of diversification of use (versatile applications) of the armed forces. These principles established that the Chinese Navy must be ready to perform their direct tasks on protection of state sovereignty and territorial integrity and is able to perform tasks in peacetime. Also important aspects of Navy will be interaction with other powers of the sea and the implementation of international peacekeeping obligations.

The basic documents defining the role and place of the Navy in national security, tasks and directions of development, the preparation of naval forces, together identified directions of development of national armed forces, developed since the early 1980-ies and was officially declared in 1995. In them was based on a strategy of "Active defense", providing the creation of a Navy capable not only to repel aggression from the sea, but also to apply preventive strikes, including ocean theater of military action (TVD). In this case, the Navy stated the following:

  • in the first stage (until the beginning of the XXI century) the plans of the Navy command provided for the establishment of groups capable of maintaining a favorable operational regime in the zone, limited by the "first island chain" – Islands of Ryukyu and Philippine Islands and in the waters of the Yellow, East China and South China seas;
  • in the second stage (until 2020), the Navy is planned to be strengthened so that they were capable of operational actions within the "second island chain" – the Kuril Islands, Hokkaido island, the Islands of Nampo, Mariana, Caroline and the island of New Guinea, including the waters of the Japanese and Philippine seas, and seas of the Indonesian archipelago;
  • in the third stage (to 2050) is expected to create a powerful Navy, able to solve tasks in any area of the world ocean.

The analysis of the views of the military-political leadership of China on the development of the national armed forces leads to the conclusion that the first phase of the programme to date successfully completed. Currently implemented the second phase of construction of the Chinese Navy is part of the long-term programs based on the implementation of the concept of"protection of strategic borders and vital space", according to which China must have armed forces able to win any war, intensity and scale.

Among the factors of the intensification of naval construction in the state of foreign political scientists and military experts consider a number of events, such as the inclusion of the territory of Eastern China and its waters in the operating area of the Pacific joint command of the armed forces of the United States; the U.S. withdrawal from the anti-ballistic missile Treaty of 1972; the establishment of the United States in the Western Pacific missile defense system with the assistance of the navies of Japan, the Republic of Korea, Australia and Taiwan; the experience of the US and its allies air and naval operations during local conflicts of modernity; the presence of the "Taiwan problem".

The main directions of the construction and principles of operational use of the PLA Navy is defined in adopted by the Chinese military leadership concepts "coastal defense", "active influence on the enemy at maximum ranges" and "retaliatory nuclear strike".

The concept of "coastal defense" is a setting on the readiness of the Navy, primarily, to the conduct of hostilities in the waters of coastal seas. "Active effect on the enemy at maximum ranges" provides for the preparation of naval forces for combat operations on the entire sea (ocean) theater, and "retaliatory nuclear strike" defines the participation of the Navy in the nuclear strike.

Particularly it should be noted that, in the opinion of the military-political leadership of the PRC, future threats against China will also come from international terrorism, separatist and extremist groups. Recently, a number of countries, such as USA, Japan and South Korea have taken steps to increase its military potential, strengthening of strategic ties and securing military presence in the Eastern Pacific ocean. Significant threat to China's leadership considers the activities of the separatist forces of Taiwan, which, relying on the United States, are making efforts to maintain independence from China. China's leadership also to a threat to national security include intensive development of the major powers of new military technologies.

Under these conditions, the PLA Navy will expand its presence in the Asia Pacific region, combating terrorism, and to counter the provocations of the hostile forces of China. In addition, the PLA Navy protect the sea trade routes, fight piracy, to evacuate affected citizens and ensure the protection of the national interests of China outside the country.

The leadership of the armed forces is actively promoting the introduction of mechanisms of collective security and to build trust between the military departments of the countries of the world. In these circumstances, the PLA Navy actively cooperate with the Navy of other countries in the protection of shared state borders and ensuring the security of sea lanes in the peacekeeping operations of the UN in combating global terrorism, and also measures on liquidation of consequences of natural disasters in various countries and regions.

Chinese military experts say that over the past 15 years, the combat capabilities of the national Navy has grown considerably, and currently their level of development allows China to address a wide range of tasks in the distant sea and ocean zones. In particular, the PLA Navy is constantly engaged in the international operation to combat piracy in the Gulf of Aden, are increasingly implementing a policy of establishing national sovereignty over the disputed island territories in the waters of the East China and South China seas, to defend the economic interests of the state, carry out activities of operational and combat training, participate in operations on liquidation of consequences of natural and man-made disasters in areas of the Pacific and Indian oceans.


Drawing – Soldiers of the PLA are taking part in the operation to combat piracy in the Gulf of Aden

The military-political leadership of China is planning the development of the PLA Navy by 2020 will mainly occur in the direction of their qualitative improvement without significantly increasing the combat and numerical composition. The PLA Navy will remain one of the best equipped and largest in the Asia-Pacific region: the number of naval personnel – about 235 000 people, the number of ships of around 950 warships and auxiliary vessels (for comparison the number of personnel of the Japanese Navy – some 45 500 people, the number of ships – approximately 110 units; the number of personnel of the Navy of the Republic of Korea – about 63 000 people, the number of ships – about 170 units). Special attention will be paid to the development of carrier forces, the development of submarine forces and naval aviation, to increase the life cycle of the ship structure.

The ship of the Navy will be improved through the development of new projects of major classes of ships and their construction, and modernization of the existing ship structure by equipping it with the most modern weapons and equipment. Improving the combat potential of the Navy will be carried out at the expense of more qualitative development of existing weapons and military equipment, improvement of operational and combat training.

Submarine force will receive the priority development in the construction of the Navy. Currently the works on creation of ballistic missile submarines of the new generation. In China actively carried out the construction of a series of SSBNs "Jin" (project 094), having on Board 12 PU SLBM of a new generation of "Cuilan-2" with a range of 8000 km. it is Planned that alert SSBNs of this type will be organized in the regions of the Western Pacific.


Figure SSBNs "Jin" and SLBMs of a new generation of "Cuilan-2"

Currently, the armament of the submarine forces of Navy of the PLA there are five multi-purpose nuclear submarines of two types: type "Han" (project 091) and "Shan" (project 093). Prospects for the development of multipurpose nuclear submarines associated with the construction and modification of nuclear submarine of type "Shan". The data series of nuclear submarines intended to replace obsolete submarines of the "Han", which are to be withdrawn from combat composition of the fleet by 2021.


Drawing – Nuclear submarine of type "Han"

Currently, the armament of submarines of the PLA Navy is about 50 diesel submarines five types: type "Min" (project 035), such as "Kilo" (Russian project 877/633), such as "Romeo", like "sun" (project 039) and "yuan". Further development of diesel submarines will be associated with the carrying out of works on modernization of submarines of the "song" (project 039) and the continuation of the construction of a series of SUBMARINES of the "yuan" (project 041).


The picture is a Submarine of the"yuan"

Surface forces will be improved in several directions. The main direction of development is the construction of a series of aircraft carriers and the development of carrier strike groups. The development of aircraft carriers in the state related to the construction of a series of three aircraft carriers of its own design. The first Chinese aircraft carrier "Liaoning" was introduced into the fleet in 2012. It was restored and converted from a heavy aviabearing cruiser "Varyag" (PR. 1143.6). The ship, which in 1993 had a degree of readiness of 70-80%, was sold by Ukraine to China in 2001. The first aircraft carrier built entirely in China, is scheduled to enter the combat strength by the end of 2020, currently, the aircraft carrier "Shandong passes sea trials". Thus, the plans of the military-political leadership of China provides for the presence of the fleet of the two carriers by 2021. Chinese military experts suggest that in the future carriers of national buildings will be equipped with a nuclear power plant and the catapult to be steam or electro-magnetic. It is planned to form three carrier strike groups.

Drawing – First carrier strike group to China-based aircraft carrier "Liaoning"

At present "Liaoning" is not equipped with the aircraft in full, and carrier-based fighter "Jian-15" completes the testing program. It is also planned that the aviation wing of the "Liaoning" will be equipped with the modifications of the helicopter "Zhi-8" for solving problems of airborne early warning and anti-submarine helicopters "JI-9"for anti-submarine defense. Currently undergoing training at the training aircraft carrier group, which is based on the aircraft carrier "Liaoning". Practiced questions the hike long distances, testing on-Board equipment, organization, control, take-off (landing) of aircraft and helicopters of carrier-based aircraft.

Also, as suggested by Chinese military experts, surface forces will be strengthened by commissioning of the new surface ships. Prospects of development of the URO destroyers of the Chinese Navy are associated with the construction of destroyers URO type "Kunming" and "Lanzhou".

Another promising multi-role combat ship will be a destroyer URO project 052D with installations of vertical launch missiles (cruise missile "Donghai-10", antiaircraft guided missiles "Hongqi-9", anti-ship missiles "Inci-62" and anti-submarine missiles). This ship has on Board a multifunction weapons control system type "Zhonghua shengdong", which is the Chinese version of the American system "aegis". In the next five years is planned to build 10 destroyers of the project, which will become the main fighting force of the PLA Navy to protect the waters of the South Kitaiskogo sea.

Picture – URO Destroyer project 052D

The Navy will be implemented by the planned decommissioning of the frigates obsolete types and construction to replace ships of new projects. Plans of the Navy command of the PLA provides that the main guard ships in the future ships will be built on the basis of types of "Sanwa and Csanky".

Ships auxiliary ships will be increased due to the commissioning of new survey ships, survey ships, transports, supply, floating bases, ships rescue support, ensure the deployment of ships and others.

The aircraft of naval forces includes a large Park aircraft technology: the bomber "Hong-6"; fighter-bombers "Jianhong-7"; fighter "Jian-7, -8 and -10"; aircraft "Concini-200"; transport aircraft, "Yun-5, -7, -8, -12". The basis of the Park of helicopters of the Chinese Navy anti-submarine helicopters are "JI-9" and Ka-28, as well as helicopters auxiliary air force: transport helicopter "Zhi-8" and search-and-rescue helicopter Ka-27.

The Navy expects the aircraft the Navy would be enhanced by the currently developed carrier-based aircraft, particularly fighters "Jian-15" and "Jian-15S", AWACS aircraft, helicopters modifications "Zhi-8 and Zhi-9". Also is developing anti-submarine aircraft based on the "Yun-8" aircraft and Maritime patrol aircraft. At present, China developed unmanned aircraft that entered service in the PLA Navy until 2021.


Figure – carrier-based fighter "Jian-15"carrier-based helicopter "Zhi-8"

Of particular interest is the experimental combat UAV carrier-based "Lijiang", which took its first flight in 2013. The drone was created with the use of technologies that reduce radar signature. Officially the tactical and technical data of this BLAH is not declared. It is planned that these UAVS can be included in a wing of the Chinese carriers will be able to take off and (landing) on the deck of aircraft carriers and automatic mode.


Drawing Combat UAV carrier-based "Lijiang"

Marines are armed with new armored and artillery equipment, anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons, the development of which coincide with the trends of modernization of similar systems of IWT in the army. By 2021, the composition of the fleets will include helicopter landing ships docks, which in turn will increase desktopmetronome the Chinese Navy and will ensure the carrying out of various tasks, the depth of planting and the numerical composition of the landed forces amphibious operations. Promising helicopter landing ships docks will be equipped with not only the landing platform, but also the hangar, which in turn will improve the ability of amphibious forces.


The picture helicopter Landing ship dock type "Yigao" sea trials

Troops of the coastal defense will be reinforced by the latest anti-ship ballistic missile "Dongfeng-21D" that will enable China to provide cover for the coast, the naval bases, ports, marine infrastructure and will help to prevent possible attempts of aggression States in the Asia-Pacific region from the South China and Philippine seas, including the U.S. Navy.

In the conditions of growing tensions related to the aggravation of territorial disputes between Nations in the Asia-Pacific region, special attention is paid to equipment of coastal defense forces with new weapons and military equipment. So in 2014 in the framework of the state program on creation of the ships of the coastal defense force coast guard China entered the multi-purpose patrol ships CCG-3401 and CCG-2401. It is planned to further acceptance on arms of the ships of this type.

The possibility of air defense, the Navy will be increased at the expense of means of antiaircraft defense of the ships. Currently, six destroyers project 052С installed a complex air defense "Hongqi-9" (range up to 100 km), 15 patrol ships of the project 054A – "Hongqi-16" (40-75 km). The ships are equipped with radar with phased antenna array, the characteristics of which are similar to foreign phased array of type "sea Eagle" and "dragon eye".

The organizational structure of the Navy, according to Chinese military experts, will also be subjected to reorganization. In their opinion, the present staff structure of the PLA Navy, providing for the division three fleet does not meet modern requirements to conduct combat operations in oceanic zone.

Chinese military theorists developed a new structure of the armed forces. The contents of the new concept provides a transition from the old trehletnej structure (North, East, South fleet) to a new dvuhletki the structure of the fleet, designed for warfare near the territorial waters of China and the fleet intended for combat operations in oceanic zone.

The implementation of the concept providing for the establishment of the two navies, according to the plans of the Chinese commanders, will greatly enhance the combat capabilities of the national Navy, will allow you to control the coastal sea zone to keep aircraft carrier strike groups in ocean areas that will contribute to the growing influence of China in the foreign policy environment in the Asia-Pacific region.

At present, the use of units of the main branches of the fleet is improved in the operational squadrons (fleets) that are related to the category of operational units, solving the problems in the water. The composition of squadrons can join brigades and divisions of submarines, surface ships, and supply vessels.

In General, the construction of the Navy as the force is in accordance with the long-term development program of the PLA, based on the concept of the "protection of strategic borders and living space", according to which China must have armed forces able in the Asia Pacific region to win the war of any scale and duration using all means and methods of warfare.

The analysis of the views of the military-political leadership of China for the role of the Navy in national security have shown that the construction of the armed forces is aimed at comprehensively increasing their combat capabilities. The command of the Navy of the PLA optimize the organizational structure of its formations and pays great attention to technical re-equipment with modern naval equipment. Implementation of the above activities will in the next few years to significantly reduce the gap in technical equipment and combat capabilities of the naval forces of the PLA from the strongest Navy in the world.

List of sources used

  1. Annual Report to Congress: Military and Security Developments Involving the People's Republic of China 2019 / Office of the Secretary of Defense, 2019.
  2. Baipishu city: Zhongguo wuzhuang liliang yunyong de duoyuanhua / Beijing (White paper on national defence / Beijing), 2019
  3. The Chinese Navy: Expanding Capabilities, Evolving Roles / National Defense University Press, 2018.
  4. Chinese Military Modernization and Force Development: Chinese and Outside Perspectives / Center for Strategic and International Studies, 2018.
  5. China Naval Modernization: Implications for U.S. Naval Capabilities – Background and Issues for Congress / Congressional research Service, 2019.
  6. The Chinese Navy: Expanding Capabilities, Evolving Roles / National Defense University, 2019.
  7. Trends In China's Naval Modernization US China Economic and Security Review Commission Testimony, Jesse L. Karotkin, 2019.

Ruslan Bolonchuk

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