The New Chinese Aircraft Carrier Shandong in the Chinese Sphere of Influence
The Chinese navy has a broad spectrum of various naval assets including submarines and destroyers. However, the introduction of China’s new aircraft carrier, Shandong, represents the start of a new chapter in the history of the People’s Liberation’s Army Navy.
The entry of this domestically made ship attracted a lot of attention worldwide and is part of President Xi Jinping’s military modernization plan. Although the Shandong is an older soviet, ski-jump style aircraft carrier, future versions could feature the catapult system that US carriers have. The Shandong is also reported to carry only 25 fighter jets, which is a relatively small number compared to the newest carriers that the USA operate.
Despite these limitations, many military experts see this addition to the Chinese fleet as a sign of increasing Chinese militarization. After all, the Chinese aircraft carrier is another step towards reaching the goal of building a stronger Navy. And history has shown that a strong and modern navy is an integral part of every superpower. However, many analysts see this development as a lot more than just flexing military muscles.
Therefore, it is imperative to analyze the economic and geopolitical effects of China’s new aircraft carrier.
The People’s Liberation Army Navy’s plan to have a fleet of six aircraft carrier strike groups is a clear sign that China aims to have a greater role on the geopolitical stage. China’s rule is challenged in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and the always present tensions in the South China Sea. The Chinese aircraft carrier strike force can have a galvanizing effect on the Chinese regional ambitions. To be more specific, with this new aircraft carrier the People’s Liberation Army increases its combat parity in the Pacific region with the USA. Furthermore, the introduction of this aircraft carrier can block potential American aid to Japan and Taiwan. And from a strategic point of view, the new aircraft carrier can also hamper the effectiveness of the U.S long-range strategic bombers placed at the naval base in Guam.
The carrier can also protect the Chinese submarines and transport supply ships of the People’s Liberation Navy from the American aircraft and submarines. So, if we look through the prism of geopolitics, the new Chinese aircraft carrier is a tool that erodes the regional military reputation of the USA.
China continues to increase its economic output at a fast rate every year. They are able to build two carriers at a time. And, it is important to emphasize that trade routes such as the South China sea are crucial for the Chinese government. That is why the new Chinese aircraft carrier will be deployed in the disputed area of the South China Sea. Therefore, the new aircraft carrier can play an integral role in protecting the trade interests of Xi’s administration.
Shandong’s ability to confront other nations and allied forces in the disputed South China Sea will have a major impact on the balance of force in the region. And in the long term, this aircraft carrier can strengthen the regional and economic interest of China in the long term.
The Bottom Line
On a final note, we can conclude that the new Chinese aircraft carrier can have a significant geopolitical and economic impact. It represents a symbol of the ongoing and rapid rise of the Chinese military. And the domino effect is an increased ability to counter the U.S hegemony and Naval domination. Therefore, the ultimate long-term effect on this new aircraft carrier is more muscular and assertive Chinese navy. And the domino effect is an increased ability of China to assert its own geopolitical and economic ambitions.