The Great Asian Arms Buildup: China’s Military Expansion, South China Sea to Dominate Shangri-La Dialogue (excerpt)
(Source: Bloomberg news; published May 31, 2016)

By David Tweed and Mira Rojanasakul
China is beginning to flex its military muscle, which it has been upgrading for the past decade to include new capabilities such as in-flight refueling of combat aircraft. Here, a J-10 fighter refuels from a HU-6 tanker. (PLA photo)
The 15th Shangri-La Dialogue kicks off in Singapore on June 3, with a keynote speech by Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha. The region's most prestigious defense meeting gathers military leaders from around the globe to discuss security and defense policy.

This year talks are likely to be dominated again by discussions of the South China Sea disputes ahead of an arbitration ruling on China’s claims to the waters expected mid-year. Combating terrorism and cyber-warfare will also be on the agenda.

U.S. and China Muscle Up

U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter will lead the U.S. delegation for the second year running. Two years ago his predecessor Chuck Hagel traded barbs with a Chinese general over China’s territorial claims.

China's growing military might is a cause of concern for countries in the region, particularly its navy, now the biggest in the region. The East China Sea and South China Sea fleets are responsible for naval security around Taiwan and the South China Sea. The North Sea fleet protects Beijing and the northern coast.

China is on a modernization drive and has programs to produce everything from submarine-launched missiles to nuclear and conventionally powered attack submarines, destroyers, corvettes, and other naval assets. It is also building a second aircraft carrier.

The new carrier is based on the Soviet era Liaoning aircraft carrier currently in service. Military analysts speculate that the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) will build and operate at least three aircraft carriers.

The U.S. is also beefing up its presence in Asia, and is sending littoral combat ships, jet fighters, surveillance planes and another aircraft carrier to the region. (end of excerpt)

Click here for the full story, on the Bloomberg website.


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