April 08, 2011 11:42
China's neighbors are on edge as the world's most populous country gets ready to launch its first aircraft carrier. The ship is expected to be deployed for warfare-ready in the South China or East China seas.
Japan and Vietnam, which have territorial disputes with China in those areas, are busy working out defenses. Last year, Japan formulated new defense guidelines in favor of increasing the number of large submarines, and Vietnam bought six subs from Russia.
The U.S. has made no particular response, even though according to diplomats in Beijing the carrier threatens it naval supremacy in waters off China.
Late last year, the U.S. increased the number of aircraft carriers in the West Pacific controlled by the U.S. Seventh Fleet from one to three. Some observers speculated that this was aimed at responding to provocations from North Korea, but Chinese observers believe it was designed to check the Chinese Navy's advance.
India is also sensitive to Chinese advances into the Indian Ocean to secure its oil transport route. India already has three aircraft carriers and plans to buy the 44,000-ton aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov from Russia for US$1.2 billion and remodel it.
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