TEHRAN (Press TV) -- China is working to turn its navy — the largest in the world— into a "formidable” deterrent against U.S. aggression, says a political commentator.
"The People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) is defensive in nature, meant to protect the Chinese homeland, its coastal waters, and its vital marine trade routes. The United States Navy (USN) is offensive in nature and meant to project power across the globe to promote American hegemony,” Dennis Etler, who holds a doctorate in anthropology from the University of California, told Press TV in an interview.
"The PLAN composed mostly of light tonnage ships that can patrol and protect China’s coastal waters in the East China Sea, the Taiwan Strait, and the South China Sea in order to ward off any potential aggressors,” he said. "On the other hand, the U.S. has a global reach.”
The U.S. regularly dispatches its warships and warplanes to the South China Sea as part of what it describes as "freedom of navigation” patrols. China claims sovereignty over nearly the entire sea and has repeatedly warned Washington against military activities in the region.
"Currently, there are three carrier strike groups in the Western Pacific,” Etler said. "The build-up of the PLAN is mostly to counter these carrier strike groups. They have become a formidable deterrent with an array of anti-ship missiles and overall firepower.”
"The U.S. will think twice before even contemplating an attack against China,” he noted.
China has managed to assemble the world’s largest naval force, and is now working to make it formidable far from its shores.
In April 2018, Chinese President Xi Jinping oversaw the largest naval parade in his country’s history, saying at the time that "the task of building a powerful navy has never been as urgent as it is today”.
Some six years ago, China had 255 battle force ships in its fleet, according to the U.S. Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI). As of the end of 2020, it had 360, over 60 more than the U.S. Navy, according to an ONI forecast.
Four years from now, the PLAN will have 400 battle force ships, it predicts, while the goal of the current U.S. navy shipbuilding plan, a goal with no fixed date, is for a fleet of 355.
Analysts say those are troubling signs for the United States as it grapples with budget and pandemic problems.