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No need to overreact if China acquires aircraft carriers: scholar

No need to overreact if China acquires aircraft carriers: scholar

Taipei, May 5 (CNA) If China should one day succeed in acquiring aircraft carriers, this would not significantly change the balance of military power across the Taiwan Strait, according to a recent study by a noted Japanese scholar.
"Although the military balance in the Taiwan Strait already overwhelmingly favors China, which has deployed more than 1,000 missiles in the coastal areas, the introduction of Chinese aircraft carriers would not significantly affect the military balance," said Tetsuo Kotani, a research fellow at the Japanese think tank Ocean Policy Research Foundation.
He made the remarks May 4 in an article titled "Chinese Aircraft Carriers? -- Let Them Have Them," which stated that China's acquisition of aircraft carriers is not a matter of "if," but "when." Kotani said that for China, an aircraft carrier fleet would symbolize prestige and status as a major power and could also shape the balance of combat capabilities in the South China Sea where China has territorial disputes with Southeast Asian countries.
Moreover, an aircraft carrier fleet would provide protection for China in the sea lanes from the South China Sea through the Strait of Malacca and up to the Indian Ocean, and in particular, prevent a sea blockade against China, which could be a possibility in any contingency involving Taiwan, he added.
Kotani, however, contended that the international community should not overreact if China one day acquires aircraft carriers, not only because it would take an astronomical amount of money and time for China to build up a fleet, but also because a Chinese carrier strike group would be no match for a U.S.
fleet.
"The possession of aircraft carriers would provide a good opportunity for Chinese security planners to choose the right path.
Failure to do so will invite tough countermeasures from other maritime powers,"Kotani said. "We should not be frightened by China's progress in this area." He suggested that the international community, especially Japan, to monitor developments and assess the implications of Chinese aircraft carriers on regional security.
In response to China's moves, Japan should maintain and strengthen its alliance with the United States and develop appropriate countermeasures that include reinforcement of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force submarine fleet and of air bases along the Ryukyu and Bonin islands, Kotani said.
Furthermore, since a Chinese aircraft carrier fleet will likely carry the Russian Sukhoi-33 aircraft, it is also necessary for Japan to reach a swift decision on the next-generation main fighter aircraft for its Air Self Defense Force by requesting a prompt response from the U.S. on sales of the F-22, according to Kotani.
In addition to strengthening cooperation with friendly countries in the region, such as South Korea, Japan should also counter China's strategies by reinforcing intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance and anti-submarine warfare capabilities, he suggested.
(By Rachel Chan)




Updated : 2020-11-30 04:31 GMT+08:00