September DIRT Project: Comparing the US and Chinese Navies

My track record on Monthly DIRT Projects is not good. I know it and accept full responsibility for letting the majority of project from months past fade away into obscurity. I apologize and intend to change that beginning this month. After reading a few recent articles on the balance of naval power in the Pacific I discussed the topic with some of the people I was at Newport with. Those informal talks are becoming the driving force behind the September DIRT Project and in all likelihood the topic is one that will be discussed regularly on the blog going forward.

There are two preeminent naval powers in the world today; the United States and the People’s Republic of China. While the United States has been a major naval power for over a century, China’s rise has been more recent, and considerably more disquieting. The first two decades of the 21st Century have seen two contrasting approaches by the US and China regarding their respective sea arms. Whereas the last 20 years have been a period of great forward progress for the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) the same period of time has seen the US Navy in large part stuck in the mud so to speak for a number of reasons.

At present, the two navies are approaching parity in some regards. Ship numbers most evident The PLAN seems to be perched on an incline and still ascending while the US Navy is on the decline. Whether or not this is the case or just an erroneous first impression needs to be examined closer. Sino-US relations continue to deteriorate because of COVID-19, trade concerns, and expansionist moves by China. Tensions are especially high in the South China Sea where Chinese claims, and actions have forced a visible US response. The PLAN, and US Navy will factor largely into the Beijing and Washington’s future plans regarding the Western Pacific.

So, given the state of the US-China relationship I’d say that now is a good time to look at the two navies, and examine what direction they’re going in, and how their respective strengths affect US and Chinese geopolitical plans and actions in the Pacific and Indian Ocean.

All things considered, the first post on this topic will probably come around by next weekend. Expect 2-3 entries before the end of the month.

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