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U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, "Hearing: The Implications of China’s Naval Modernization for the United States," June 11, 2009

This hearing was conducted by the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission on June 11, 2009. The U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission was created by the U.S. Congress in 2000 to monitor, investigate, and submit to Congress an annual report on the national security implications of the economic relationship between the United States and the People’s Republic of China.
June 11, 2009

June 11, 2009
Room 562 Dirksen Senate Office Building
First Street and Constitution Avenues, NE
Washington, DC 20510

Hearing Co-Chairs: Vice Chairman Larry Wortzel and Commissioner Peter Videnieks

Opening Statement of Dr. Larry Wortzel, Vice Chairman

Good morning and welcome to the sixth hearing of the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission’s 2009 reporting cycle. Our purpose today is to gather information about China’s naval modernization with a view toward understanding the scope, strategies, and intentions of the People's Liberation Army and the central leadership of the Chinese Communist Party in developing a modern navy with a reach beyond China's immediate coastal waters. Also, we seek to understand how the changes in China's maritime posture and strategy may affect U.S. security interests in East Asia and around the globe.

In the past decade, China's approach to maritime security and its naval posture has evolved from that of a nation which focused on continental issues to one of a nation which recognizes that it has broad interests and economic interactions around the world. Much of China's energy and other resource needs are supplied by sea, and the bulk of what China exports moves by sea. In Beijing, senior leaders recognize that a modern China must build the capacity to protect its maritime interests. Also, as we will hear in one of the panels today, there are serious differences between the United States and China over issues related to activities in the exclusive economic zone that have led to military confrontation between our two navies in the East China Sea and the South China Sea. These differences have the potential to create volatile situations if they are not well addressed through diplomatic activity.

To help us understand these issues, we will be joined today by a number of expert witnesses from the Government, academia, and the private sector. In particular, we are pleased to welcome several Members of Congress who have taken time out of their busy schedule to join us. This morning Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo from Guam and Congressman Randy Forbes from Virginia will present in turn their views on China’s naval modernization. And later this afternoon, former Senator John Warner will provide his views as former Secretary of the Navy.

On the 30th of April, 2009, the Chinese military conducted a large fleet review in the port city of Qingdao, China, commemorating the 60 year anniversary of the People’s Liberation Army Navy. On display were many of the navy’s newest vessels and aircraft. For China, the Qingdao fleet review was an opportunity to demonstrate to both a domestic and international audience the progress its navy has made in modernizing its forces.

In recent years China has made great strides in modernizing its naval forces. Since 2004, the Chinese navy has procured dozens of modern naval platforms, including 20 submarines spread among five different classes, eight destroyers, and 24 advanced fighters, the Su-30 Mkk2. China is on the cusp of an operational submarine-based nuclear deterrent and the Central Military Commission seems to be considering building aircraft carriers. There appears to be a credible effort by the PLA to develop the capacity to deny regional access to any potential adversaries through the use of anti-ship ballistic missiles and anti-ship cruise missiles. Some Chinese military writings on doctrine have emphasized the need for China to “control the seas” through missiles, electronics and information technologies that span the surface, subsurface, air, and space domains. Finally, recent PLA Navy events, such as the ongoing deployment of three PLA Navy vessels to the Gulf of Aden, the first transiting of Chinese surface combatants through Japan’s Tsugaru Strait out into the Pacific Ocean, and the noticeable increase in overseas port
calls, demonstrate that the Chinese navy is turning into a blue water navy. Taken together, these developments represent a navy that seeks to secure China’s maritime interests, which include securing China’s sovereign territory, patrolling vital sea lines of communications, defending its economic and political interests overseas, and denying access to its littoral waters. They also could affect how the United States and its allies deploy forces, protect bases and troops, and conduct military operations in East and Southeast Asia.

Once again, I welcome all of you to this hearing, and I now turn to my fellow co-chair for this hearing, Commissioner Videnieks, for his opening statement.

Opening Statement of Commissioner Peter Videnieks

Thank you Vice Chairman Wortzel. And, thanks to our witnesses for being here today to help us to understand China’s naval modernization. The Department of Defense 2009 Annual Report to Congress on the Military Power of the People’s Republic of China states, “since 2000, China has expanded its arsenal of anti-access and area-denial weapons, presenting and projecting increasingly credible, layered offensive combat power across its borders and into the Western Pacific.” Given the importance of the Western Pacific to the United States, it is crucial that we understand exactly how China’s naval modernization impacts U.S. national security.

In recent years, China has modernized its naval forces. It has constructed or procured dozens of new vessels, including very modern submarines and surface combatants. It has also improved its offensive weapons systems, developing anti-ship cruise missiles and pursuing anti-ship ballistic missiles. This technological progress has been mirrored by a similar improvement in the navy’s institutional aspects. Organizational restructuring, personnel reforms, and training improvements have all been carried out over the past few years with the goal of transforming the People’s Liberation Army Navy into a modern, capable naval force.

Therefore, the purpose of this hearing is to examine the impact of this naval modernization on the United States, particularly on U.S. national security interests in the Western Pacific region. What effects will China’s offensive weapons’ development have on the U.S. military’s ability to respond to a crisis in the region? Will China’s naval modernization negatively impact the U.S.’s strategically-important sea lines of communication? And finally, what should be done to ensure that the United States maintains its freedom of navigation in the Western Pacific? These are a few questions that I am interested in exploring during today’s hearing.

We thank all of you for participating, and we’ll begin with today’s first panel.

Commissioners’ Opening Statements
Opening Statement of Vice Chairman Larry Wortzel
Opening Statement of Commissioner Peter Videnieks

Panel I: Congressional Perspectives
Congresswoman Madeleine Z. Bordallo (D-Guam)
Congressman J. Randy Forbes (R-VA)

Panel II: Strategic Impact of PLA Naval Modernization
RADM Michael McDevitt (USN, Ret.), V.P. and Director of Strategic Studies, CNA, Alexandria, VA
Mr. Peter Dutton, Associate Professor of Strategic Studies, China Maritime Studies Institute, U.S. Naval War College, Newport, RI
Mr. Paul S. Giarra, President, Global Strategies and Transformation, Herndon, VA

Panel III: Operational Activities of the PLA Navy
Mr. Cortez Cooper, Senior International Policy Analyst, The RAND Corporation, Arlington, VA
Mr. Fred Vellucci, China Analyst, CNA, Alexandria, VA

Panel IV: Technical Developments of the PLA Navy
Mr. Ronald O’Rourke, Naval Affairs Specialist, Congressional Research Service, Washington, DC
Mr. Richard D. Fisher, Jr., Senior Fellow on Asian Military Affairs, International Assessment and Strategy Center, Alexandria, VA

Panel V: Views from Former Secretaries of the Navy
Senator John Warner, KBE
Senator Jim Webb



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