Why are we so worried about China’s first aircraft carrier?
On August 14th, 1912, the United States launched its first aircraft carrier, the USS Langley. This 11,500 ton ship served during both World Wars until its luck ran out near Java in 1942 and had to be abandoned and sunk in order to avoid capture by the Japanese.
Almost one hundred years later, China has just launched its first aircraft carrier and the U.S. State department is demanding to know why.
“We would welcome any kind of explanation that China would like to give for needing this kind of equipment,” said Victoria Nuland, a State department spokeswoman.
Let me give you the explanation, Victoria. China is the world’s largest country and has recently become the second largest economy behind the United States. China is also the undisputed powerhouse in Asia. Is that a good enough explanation for you?
Nuland also called for more transparency from China stating that “in our military-to-military relations with many countries around the world, we have the kind of bilateral dialogue where we can get quite specific about the equipment that we have and its intended purposes and its intended movements.”
Is that the best you can come up with, Gloria? How transparent are we with our military equipment and operations? Are we now trading information about our military hardware and intentions for the sake of transparency?
The State Department looks plain silly whenever it whines and cries about Chinese military ambitions. No matter how much fear it drums up about China’s so called threat to stability in Asia, the United States really has very little moral high ground to stand on here. The Chinese have not threatened us. They are not actively sponsoring terrorism or calling for the annihilation of any of our allies. The evolution of China’s military reflects its explosive development and expanding economic interests worldwide.
The idea that China wants to take over the world is misguided and largely rooted in Cold War hysteria. While the Chinese people are intensely nationalistic, they are not a bellicose people. They do not seek to make war unless their domestic interests are directly threatened.
What those domestic issues are, of course, is a hot point of contention. From the Taiwan Strait to the Yellow Sea, these ‘domestic’ challenges do have global implications. Nonetheless, military advancements such as this new aircraft carrier do fall within China’s rights as a sovereign nation to protect its national interests.
The same can be said about the United States and the 11 aircraft carriers that serve her throughout the world.
Instead of complaining about China’s latest military toys, the State Department should be picking up where President Bush left off by continuing to pressure the Chinese on the issue of human rights. It is sad that police beatings, religious persecution, limitations on free speech, and unfair trials are still all too common here. We can have the biggest impact on China’s future by firmly encouraging the Chinese government to institute the necessary reforms that will help China to fully emerge from her dark and oppressive past.
There will always be conflict between the United States and the People’s Republic of China. That much is certain. What is also certain is that the United States is going to have to make room for China as a world power.
Napoleon supposedly once remarked, “China is a sleeping giant. Let her lie and sleep, for when she awakens she will astonish the world.”
She has awakened and whether we like it or not, she is here to stay.