chicom bird farm.

Some of you may vaguely recall this post from 2007, in which I mention that the hull of the former Soviet Kusnetsov-class aircraft carrier Varyag had been purchased by a Chinese company “to turn into a floating casino.”

Well, guess what just left the Chinese Navy’s port at Dalian for sea trials?

Oh, and the PLAN named their new Tool of Imperialism “Shi-Lang” which is the name of the Chinese admiral who conquered Taiwan in the 17th century. That’s totally not ominous at all, right?

China is spending a lot of money and effort building a credible blue-water navy. They’re still a long way from being able to stand toe to toe with a modern Western-equipped Navy, but it’s more than a little telling that the Chinese Navy has put so many eggs into the bird farm basket. Aircraft carriers are not for territorial or coastal defense, they’re strictly for offensive operations beyond the reach of one’s own air power. They’re tools of power projection.

(With the Chinese lack of respect for copyright laws and their astonishing abilities in the field of economic mimicry, I sort of expected the first Chinese carrier to be a bitwise copy of the U.S.S. Nimitz, right down to the hull number, but with slightly misspelled detail markings–BEWARE OF JET BLATS on the side of the carrier island, and so on.)


16 thoughts on “chicom bird farm.

  1. Mike Dodson says:

    Certainly ominous in the short term. In the long term …

    In order to raise enough money to build “power projection” vehicles, such as long range bombers, aircraft carriers, ICBM missiles, etc., one must have cash. To obtain cash one must, at a minimum, trade with others. By trading with the PRC we (Americans in general) have provided the cash necessary for the PRC to afford PPV’s.

    On the other hand … by entering into trade agreements and making themselves more competitive in the world markets, they are adopting much of what has been called “the American Dream.” With hard work and intellect, anyone can be anything — the road to self actualization. A “free” people is what they will become, despite the beliefs of their current leaders that they can maintain control.

    At least that’s what I see.

  2. M T Coalhopper says:

    So, in other words, Mike, our greatest defense against China may be our debt-based Western lifestyle. Given their propensity to copy what we do, their economy should crash before much longer. As you say, their funding comes from Americans buying their crap products. Maybe if we would stop buying, they would have to stop militarizing.

    I vote for sinking every container ship coming here from China. Don’t call it a violation of international trade agreements. Let’s call it the first step toward rebuilding America’s manufacturing-based economy.

  3. The south china sea is full of oil and natural gas. Of course they need a blue water navy to dispute the ownership of a few islands. Ownership gives them an exclusive economic zone of 200 miles surrounding the landmass.

    Why would we expect anything different than what is going on in Sudan (Darfur)?

  4. Ed Skinner says:

    I teach embedded computing in the aerospace and defense industry. I’ve been to the PRC and have seen, first hand, the education they are providing in Universities in my area of specialty. Let there be no doubt whatsoever, the PRC is on the fast-track to projecting their power whether by air (JF-17 stealth fighter showcased in January), sea (this aircraft carrier), space (plans for a station announced in April) or via the Internet as several recent reports have suggested.
    Unlike some other asian cultures that struggle to innovate, the chinese are shrewd, aggressive and very smart. When they see good technology, they acquire it. But where they see room for improvement, they pursue it with all the muster, focus and pressure a Communist government with billions of hands and minds can apply.
    Read the label in the shirt you are wearing and ask yourself, where did the notebook computer I saw every University student carrying come from? Hint: Their Moms and Dads didn’t buy it.

  5. Mike Dodson says:

    Just saying if we weren’t buying, they couldn’t afford to do some of the things they’re doing. How do you stop that? Well, when we hit a double-dip recession and a majority of us discover that this is a real, live, wriggling and poisonous depression, we’re going to eventually not have the $$ to buy the Chinese products. Unfortunately, the way the current government is working, we are not going to re-establish our industrial base, even if we were to quit trading with the Chinese, because no one wants to get their fanny taxed off. Instead, we would end up doing business with India or Bangladesh or Indonesia or somewhere else and our jobs would still be moved overseas.

    I supposed I’m just filled with a great sense of ennui — I’m winding down as I no longer recognize my government or my country and there’s nowhere else to go.

  6. Erik says:

    Much of the consumer-goods industry bowed out of this country a decade-plus back and is in no shape to suddenly return. Retailers and opinion-makers tried hard in the 1980s and 1990s with “Made in the USA” but Price is King the “China price” won consumers’ pocketbooks – of greater importance than their hearts and minds.

    Who can really blame the consumer? When faced between goods of general equivalence – especially on “low thought” purchases – price becomes the deciding factor. A number of domestic producers seem to have cut quality in desperate bids to remain afloat, resulting in the perverse situation where American-made goods were inferior and cost more.

    It would be beneficial if our tax and regulatory policy were considerably streamlined, but the fat cats went to some trouble to reward the operation of financial conglomerates rather than industry – and can’t bother themselves with icky operations – so it seems unlikely that .gov policy will change. This is unfortunate, because it’s not high-flying finance types running industries in China, it’s smart operations types that know how to design and build new products with efficiency. The Chinese seem willing to invest in themselves; America is just hoping that the latest marketing campaign will make the next quarter’s numbers look good.

    Whether the Chinese will become more assertive in their foreign policy is anyone’s guess. I gather that they do not have a history of aggression, but I also recall hearing that it’s a common saying in China that “the 20th century was a bad time to be Chinese” with the undertone that payback of some sort will be a part of the 21st century.

  7. The Chinese carrier is one thing. But I would pay more attention to see whether or nor they are building the fleet of underway replenishment ships necessary to sustain carrier operations at significant distances from China. A carrier that has to return to home port to refuel and rearm is a threat only to nations within a relatively short operating radius.

    Besides that, building up from scratch a fleet air arm that is skilled at carrier operations takes a lot of time.

  8. The Other Jay says:

    One aircraft carrier is an interesting development, but will it is the challenge of operating the carrier, the aircraft, and the battlegroup as a whole in the very challenging discipline of “big systems” management that will make or break the effectiveness of the unit.

    As a ship, the Varyag class was less intended for power-projection than to provide local air-superiority (BARCAP) for surface fleet components. There are supposedly two more Varyag-class hulls under construction in China for 2015-16.

    Which countries should be more worried about a powerful PLAN surface fleet traveling under a newly-effective BARCAP screen?

    Taiwan should be very concerned in general, especially if some craft with front ramps seem to be getting produced in quantity.

    Taiwan, the Philippines, and Vietnam can wonder how strongly to attempt to defend their oil/gas interests in the South China Sea.

    As the costs of raw materials rises due to the expansion of other growth economies (India, Brazil, others), will the strong need for China to greatly expand its economy again before the aging of the Chinese population strangles future growth lead to desperate measures such as an Eastern Siberia scenario? Once again, large surface fleets with local air superiority?

  9. Old NFO says:

    Marco, this is just the tip of the iceberg. The other Jay is correct in the construct for VARYAG class boats. The PLA(N) has and is continuing to expand their sphere of influence, and are now truly playing in the ‘blue water’. They have also stated they intend to push ‘foreign influences’ out of the Western Pacific and ‘enforce’ a 200nm territorial sea boundary by any means necessary. They do have us outnumbered by a considerable amount and are continuing to “train” in non-traditional places and times. Sorry you didn’t make the blog shoot, I would have loved to discuss this further with you.

  10. avidus says:

    I’ll suggest it’s not just the disputed reserves off its east coast that’s driving the Chinese need for a blue water navy, it’s also the study of history.

    Remember the last time an Asian power started doing things this country didn’t care for the first thing our fine president did was establish an oil blockade that caused considerable consternation. That’s one of the reasons that the PLAN’s short-term focus is on area denial while they build the training and infrastructure needed to push us out of the area entirely.

    Let’s also consider the primary factor that are driving their military growth. The Communist Party stays in power through an unspoken agreement with its subjects that the party’s way leads to a better standard of living and stability. With two thirds to three quarters of Chinese still in abject poverty the CCP must guarantee a steady flow of needed resources to fuel growth and avoid serious rebellion. And there is a limited time period to accomplish this due to demographic pressures.

    Also, the last group that wants a war is China. It’s the same reason that China dumping its US bonds is an empty threat. The primary driver of Chinese growth is US consumption. China can weather our recession through massive government spending, but should there be even a hint of war their economy would destruct. A good example of such is what started happening to the Indian economy the last time they started playing pokey chest with Pakistan.

    So enjoy the Varyag. I’ll wager our SSN force is better at anti-surface warfare than their CBG is at anti-submarine warfare.

    • Tam says:

      …the first thing our fine president did was establish an oil blockade…

      I think it’s important to note that an embargo of US oil exports and an “oil blockade” are two very, very different things.

      We didn’t start the blockade until USS Gudgeon sortied from Pearl…

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