FEER on China’s aircraft carrier

FEER’s editor, Hugo Restall, has just published a much-better-than-average piece on China and its intent to pursue an aircraft carrier.  He points out the multiplier effect a carrier will have on regional power dynamics, since even if China’s fleet stops there (it won’t) it will be the only regional power to possess one. Another good insight is that pursuing a carrier is a very clear sign the PRC is shifting its long term focus. A carrier is not aimed at the Straits. It’s a statement of regional intent.

I do though think Restall, like almost everyone else, is probably overestimating the time frame here. A carrier is a very large capital good, and the Chinese are nothing if not best-in-class at rapidly developing and constructing large capital goods. We just don’t know how long this will take. I wouldn’t be surprised though to see a somewhat low-quality carrier taking to the seas within a decade though.

The wild card is then going to be how Japan reacts.

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