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China's maritime expansion could go beyond Taiwan: experts

Central News Agency

2012/03/20 20:23:00

Taipei, March 20 (CNA) China's maritime power is expected to expand to the South China Sea, beyond Taiwan and as far as Africa as the country's development progresses, U.S. military experts said recently.

The current analyses on the naval power of China's People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) have gone beyond the domain of Taiwan issues, and discussions on the South China Sea and Africa have become more and more important, said Daniel Hartnett, a China analyst of the U.S-China Economic and Security Review Commission under the U.S. Congress.

Several key concerns in China's expansion of naval power are economic interests, territorial integrity, national defense and protection of the interests of overseas Chinese, Hartnett said in a March 12 forum held by Johns Hopkins University, according to a Voice of America report published Tuesday on its Chinese-language website.

Taiwan is the one single issue that might lead to a war between China and the U.S., said Michael McDevitt, vice president and director of the Center for Strategic Studies, a division of the Center for Naval Analyses (CNA).

However, the two powers need not be hostile toward each other because of Taiwan and things could work out peacefully, added the retired rear admiral.

Besides Taiwan, the much disputed Diaoyutai Islands could also trigger conflict between Beijing and Washington, although the chances of that remain low, according to Hartnett.

The Asia-Pacific strategy of the Obama administration is "surveillance," which means the U.S. will not greatly increase forces in the region but will maintain sufficient ability to monitor the situations there, said Eric McVadon, a former U.S. defense and naval attache at the American Embassy in Beijing.

The submarines and aircraft carriers China is developing indicate that it aims to expand its naval power to seas beyond Taiwan, McDevitt added.

However, the Chinese aircraft carriers still lag behind the U.S. both in terms of hardware and linking between the armed forces, said Peter Swartz, an analyst at CNA Strategic Studies.

(By Chai Ssu-chia and Kendra Lin)

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