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Background Briefing: China: Networked Sea Defence Carlyle A. Thayer March 9, 2013

[client name deleted] We request your assessment of the publication of ‘Panorama of China's sea defense syste’ in the Chinese press this week.

Q1. Why did China publish this article at this time? ANSWER: China gives priority to developing what it calls “counter intervention operations” in its near seas. The United States Pentagon calls this “anti-access/area denial.” China is presently confronting Japan over the Senkaku islands. It is also holding the meeting of its National People’s Congress. This is a time for Chinese propagandists to boast of China’s military power to reassure the Chinese people that the People’s Liberation Army is capable of defending national sovereignty. At the same time, China wishes to influence its adversaries by shows of strength and to convince other countries that China’s power is growing and that they should take Chinese core interests into account. Q2. Is China actually preparing for "real war"? ANSWER: The armed forces of all countries must be ready to go to war at any time. When a situation becomes tense local units are put on a higher state of alert; preparing for war involves various stages of readiness, from lower preparedness to

2 full alert. China is not preparing to launch any large scale military action against any of its neighbours. China is implementing contingency plans to confront Japan over the long term. Recently some Chinese commentators called for wearing down Japanese resolve by the continual deployment of naval vessels near the Senkaku islands.

Q3. What is the purpose behind China’s sea defence strategy? ANSWER: China recently increased its defence budget by 10.7 per cent to 720.2 billion yuan or US $115.7 billion. China will continue to develop its military strength and gradually change the naval balance of power in the western Pacific over coming years. During this period China will make it more costly and risky for the United States to intervene, especially in a scenario involving Taiwan. In the past the U.S. Navy could operate with impunity off China’s coast. The United States is responding to this by developing an Air Sea Battle concept designed to defeat China’s counter intervention strategy. The publication of the “Panorama of China's sea defense system” is a graphic depiction of China’s ability to link its various weapons systems to increase their accuracy and lethality. China’s defensive systems nevertheless are vulnerable to long range strike by cruise and ballistic missiles.

Suggested citation: Carlyle A. Thayer, “China: Networked Sea Defence,” Thayer Consultancy Background Brief, March 9, 2013. Thayer Consultancy Background Briefs are archived at

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