Category Archives: China

Iran and China agree closer ties after sanctions ease

BBC News | 23 January 2016


Xi Jinping is the first Chinese leader to visit Tehran in a decade

Iran and China have pledged closer economic and political ties after talks in Tehran between the two presidents.

China’s Xi Jinping is one of the first world leaders to visit Iran since international sanctions were lifted.

The two leaders signed 17 agreements on a range of issues from energy to boosting trade to $600bn (£420bn).

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said he and Mr Xi had signed a “comprehensive 25-year document” on strategic relations.

They also discussed terrorism, instability in the Middle East, as well as “science, modern technology, culture, tourism… security and defence issues,” President Rouhani said on Iranian TV.

President Xi is also due to meet Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei during his 24-hour visit.

He is the first Chinese president to visit Tehran in over a decade.

International sanctions on Iran were lifted last week after it agreed to roll back the scope of its nuclear activities.

China is Iran’s biggest trading partner and both countries are hoping the strong relationship will continue in Iran’s new post-sanction era, the BBC’s Farhana Dawood reports.


China-Iran: heralding regional changes, the visit of Xi Jinping to Tehran

Pressenza | Press TV | 22 Jan, 2016


Iran (Image by Nile Bowie)

China: Iran’s Friend in Sanctions, Ally in Post-Sanctions Era

By Ebrahim Rahimpour, Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister for Asia, Oceania, and CIS Countries

Xi Jinping, Secretary General of China’s Communist Party and the President of the People’s Republic of China, is to visit the Islamic Republic of Iran on January 22 and 23, upon an official invitation by his Iranian counterpart, Hassan Rouhani, and after paying similar visits to Saudi Arabia and Egypt. During his stay in Tehran, the Chinese president will be heading a high-ranking political and economic delegation. Jinping’s accompanying delegation will consist of a large number of senior Communist Party and government officials, including members of the Political Bureau of the Communist party, deputies to prime minister, ministers and high-ranking officials, as well as senior officials of major Chinese state-run organs and companies. Xi Jinping’s visit to Iran will come 14 years following a visit to the Islamic Republic of Iran by the former Chinese president, Jiang Zemin. It will be also his fifth official meeting with Rouhani after the latter was elected president. Previous meetings between the two heads of state occurred on the sidelines of international and regional meetings in Bishkek (2013), Jakarta (April 2015), and New York (during the current year), and also during Rouhani’s official visit to Beijing in June 2014.

According to available historical documents, official relations between Iran and China date back to more than 2,000 years ago and to the time when the Ashkanid dynasty ruled the Iranian Plateau and China was under the rule of the Han dynasty. Since that time and especially through the historical Silk Road, trade and cultural exchanges prospered in the course of time between these two ancient and pacifist cultures on the two sides of the Old Continent, and those relations have continued up to the present time. Following reestablishment of political relations between the two countries in modern times and since 45 years ago, especially following victory of the Islamic Revolution in Iran, bilateral relations between Tehran and Beijing entered a new phase, which was marked with all-out expansion of cooperation between the two countries in all fields on the basis of mutual respect, non-interference in each other’s internal affairs and protection of both sides’ national interests.

In this way, due to numerous historical and cultural commonalities as well as abundance of common political views between the two sides on various regional and international issues, on the one hand, and the complementary role of the two countries’ economies, on the other hand, necessary ground was provided for all-out growth and development of relations under guidance of the two countries’ leaderships. These relations have stood the test of time over more than three decades now.

By implementing correct economic policies since the late 1970s and also through perseverance of its nation, the People’s Republic of China has turned into a great and effective power in the world. As a result, China is currently the world’s second biggest economy, the biggest exporter of technical and engineering goods and services in the world, and a country with the biggest foreign exchange reserves. China, at the same time, is the biggest importer of crude oil, which makes it the main driving force behind the world’s economic growth. The country is also among the biggest consumers of energy and its huge consumer market, with a population of 1.4 billion, has been always a top priority for commodity exporters from other parts of the world. As a result, during the past years, China has come up as the foremost trade partner of Iran, the biggest customer of our country’s crude oil and the most important market for Iran’s goods and non-oil exports.

As restrictions and sanctions imposed on the Iranian nation by the Western countries escalated during past years under pretext of the country’s peaceful nuclear program, China’s high economic, industrial and technological potential provided a valuable opportunity for development of bilateral relations between Tehran and Beijing. Such potential can also form a strong foundation for further development of those relations in the future. On the other hand, and in view of measures taken by the new Iranian administration, which culminated in the implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), a new chapter will be opened in Tehran’s relations with Beijing. Therefore, there is hope that the Chinese president’s visit to Tehran will take place in forthcoming days and with the removal of sanctions, will help elevate bilateral cooperation to the level of strategic ties in all fields.

During his stay in Iran, Xi will hold bilateral meetings with his Iranian counterpart and also with other senior officials of the Islamic Republic. The two countries are also expected to sign a document on developing strategic relations between Iran and China. Chinese delegates and their Iranian counterparts will sign about 17 additional documents, including agreements and memorandums of understanding in political and economic fields to boost bilateral cooperation in such areas as energy, industry and mine, technology, investment, finance and banking, transport, culture and media, environment, and development of manpower, which will undoubtedly usher the two countries’ cooperation in a whole new phase. The two countries will also have the opportunity to share views and efforts on regional and international issues of interests, and conduct consultations on the new idea of the Chinese president with regard to reviving the Silk Road, which has come to be known as the “One Belt, One Road” initiative.

Due to its special and strategic position in West Asia, Iran can be a trustworthy partner for China in order to realize the idea of reviving the Silk Road both on land and in sea as bedrock for its own economic development and development of those countries that are located along the road, especially by providing communication and transportation facilities.

Last but not least, the forthcoming visit to Tehran by Xi Jinping, as the first leader of a great foreign power to come to the country after the implementation of JCPOA began, is also important from another viewpoint, especially due to recent developments in our country’s relations with some neighboring states and existing crises in the Middle East region. For this reason, the visit has drawn a lot of attention from experts on regional issues and international analysts because analysts believe that the visit is a sign of Beijing’s new approach to bilateral relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran as a big power in West Asia and in the sensitive regions of Persian Gulf and Middle East. It goes without saying that such a new approach in Iran’s relations with China will soon reveal its important impacts on developments in the region and international system.

Key Words: China, Iran, Friend, Sanctions, Post-Sanctions Era, Xi Jinping, Visit, Common Political Views, Economic Policies, Western Countries, Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Silk Road, Persian Gulf, Middle East, West Asia, Rahimpour

Source: Iran Newspaper
Translated By: Iran Review.Org

*Link for Further Reading: Iran and Silk Road Economic Belt: Attractions and Ambiguities

*Photo Credit: Reuters/Mark Ralston

China-USA cooperation agreement renewed

WNN | 10 November 2015

A new agreement formalizing nuclear cooperation between China and the USA and establishing the terms for nuclear trade between the countries has entered into force. The agreement replaces a previous version which had been due to expire at the end of the year.

Bilateral nuclear cooperation agreements – often referred to as 123 agreements, as they are required under subsection 123 of the US Atomic Energy Act of 1954 – are a prerequisite for nuclear trade and materials transfer between the US and any other country. They provide a comprehensive framework for peaceful nuclear cooperation as well as permitting the transfer of material, equipment (including reactors), components, information, and technology for nuclear research and nuclear power production.

President Barack Obama approved the renewal of the agreement in April, sending it before the US Congress for review. The agreement has now entered into force after completing its mandatory review over a total period of 90 days continuous session by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

The existing US-China agreement was enacted in 1985, covering a 30-year period. Its renewal means that projects such as Westinghouse’s AP1000 reactor exports, which use many US-based suppliers, as well as US-Chinese nuclear collaborations can continue unimpeded.

The US nuclear industry, through the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI), has previously urged Congress to approve the renewal. The institute’s vice president for suppliers and international programs, Daniel Lipman, welcomed its entry into force, saying: “The nuclear energy industry applauds the renewal of the US-China agreement for nuclear energy cooperation.” The direct economic benefit to the country from the renewed agreement is expected to be between $70 billion and $204 billion in the period to 2040, he said.

China currently has 22 reactors under construction, with work to start on many more. The first of four Westinghouse AP1000s under construction in China, Sanmen 1, is expected to start up next year. The AP1000 design has been standardized for many of China’s planned nuclear power plants and work is expected to begin on a further 13 reactors by 2017, NEI noted. “The continued US presence in China’s nuclear energy market and China’s adoption of US technology and operating plant exchanges will deepen its relationship with the United States and advance international nuclear safety practices,” Lipman said.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News

How France is Fueling Japan and China’s Nuclear ‘Race’

The National Interest | Victor Gilinsky and Henry Sokolski | November 6, 2015


France is helping to support industrial policies that make no economic sense and potentially threaten a nuclear arms race in Northeast Asia.

While the world is focused on Iran and nuclear proliferation in the Middle East, an accelerated round of nuclear plutonium production is about to get started in East Asia. Areva, the French nuclear export firm, is desperate for business, and therefore is seeking to sell a large plutonium separation plant to China. It is simultaneously urging Japan to start commercial operation of its large plutonium recycling complex, despite the unfavorable impact this would have on efforts to rein in worldwide production of nuclear explosives.

The Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun recently reported that after an October 5 meeting in Tokyo, “Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his French counterpart Manuel Valls agreed to help ensure Japan maintains its longtime policy to recycle spent nuclear fuel . . .”

Innocent as this statement may sound, behind it is an effort by nuclear bureaucracies in the two countries to keep alive outdated industrial nuclear policies that make no economic sense and potentially threaten a nuclear arms race in Northeast Asia. That “longtime” Japanese policy involves producing plutonium, many tons of it for use as fuel. Plutonium, of course, is also used in nuclear weapons, and just a few kilograms suffice for a warhead. Not surprisingly, China and South Korea take a considerable interest in Japan’s plutonium policy. Japan’s example also threatens the worldwide effort to restrain the spread of nuclear weapons.

Japan is on the verge of operating a large reprocessing plant at Rokkasho that is capable of separating eight tons of plutonium annually from used nuclear fuel. This $20 billion plant was, from the beginning, a triumph of nuclear ideology over economics. The plutonium fuel it was supposed to produce for Japan’s power reactors would cost several times as much as the uranium fuel it would displace. After Japan’s Fukushima accident and the subsequent closure of its nuclear reactors, only a small fraction of which will return to operation, the Rokkasho plant lost whatever plausibility it had. Japan already owns about thirty-five tons of plutonium separated and stored in France and Britain, and has nearly eleven tons on hand in Japan.

The public awareness of Rokkasho’s unwarranted expense and possible weapon applications has put Japan’s bureaucratically rigid nuclear establishment on the defensive. The plant’s operation, while still likely, is no longer assured—which is why France is rushing to “help ensure Japan maintains its longtime policy.” France has been involved with Rokkasho through the Areva nuclear industrial group, and is currently negotiating with China to build a similar reprocessing plant there. A Japanese decision not to operate Rokkasho would reverberate throughout the tightly connected nuclear world, and might well cause China to rethink its reprocessing project. This would be a severe blow to Areva, which is in deep financial trouble. Its latest reactor projects are ballooning in cost and encountering technical difficulties, and its reprocessing business is losing customers. It needs Japan to stick with its “longtime policy.”

There is a larger dimension to the French-Japanese nuclear connection. The nuclear establishments in both countries embraced, early and powerfully, the original nuclear dream of using reprocessed plutonium to fuel a new generation of fast breeder reactors that would then take over the generation of electricity. (These would in principle consume all uranium fuel as opposed to current reactors that only use about one percent of it, and so would be a power source with an essentially infinite supply of fuel.) Both countries built prototype breeders but found a commercial shift to these advanced reactors to be technically and economically unrealistic. But both countries continue to cling to their original aspirations.

The French have also learned that you don’t need economic technology to make lots of money: you just need someone to pay for it. The Japanese played that role over the past few decades. The nuclear authorities had promised the communities around Japan’s power reactors that the radioactive-used fuel would be removed. The French were happy to accept it for reprocessing—for a steep price that included an up-front Japanese contribution to pay for building a French reprocessing plant. Now, France is urging Japan to waste money on its own plant so that France can gain a profit in China. The trouble is that there is more than money at stake.

However much Japan reiterates its Nonproliferation Treaty pledge to abjure nuclear weapons, and complies with IAEA inspections, China worries about Japan’s nuclear weapons potential. If Japan goes forward with the Rokkasho operation when economic arguments are decidedly against it, China’s concerns will multiply many times over. Everyone is aware that if the plant were put to military use, it would be capable of producing more than a thousand bombs’ worth of plutonium per year. In these circumstances, international inspections cannot provide a “timely” warning of diversion to military use. Japan’s argument, that plutonium drawn from power reactors is not useful for bombs, conflicts with what weapon scientists say.

In any case, if Rokkasho enters commercial operation then China’s reprocessing and fast breeder enthusiasts will likely get the green light from their government for a reprocessing contract with Areva. China’s plan is to store plutonium fuel for a fast breeder prototype, but the project would also give China the option to rapidly increase the size of its nuclear arsenal, a point not lost on some Japanese strategists.

In the wings is South Korea, which has been pressing the United States to allow it to reprocess plutonium in the US-ROK nuclear cooperation agreement. It sees itself as the equal of Japan and will not stand for being left behind. We may well end up with a spiraling commitment to reprocessing and plutonium fuel in Northeast Asia. This would sharply reduce the margin between nuclear energy use and weapons in both Japan and Korea. And it would give respectability to adopting reprocessing in countries around the world with mixed motives.

This is not the first time that French reprocessing threatened proliferation problems. In the 1970s, the U.S. government realized that French sales of reprocessing technology to Pakistan, South Korea and Taiwan had “path to a bomb” written all over them. The American government jumped in forcefully and managed to persuade France to stop all three deals.

The United States insisted at that time that whatever the industrial arguments, international security should come first. President Gerald Ford stated in 1976 that plutonium should not be separated or used as a fuel—by any country—until we are confident “that the world community can effectively overcome the associated risks of proliferation.” Surely we have not reached that point.

It is unsurprising that Japan’s nuclear establishment cannot easily give up the course it has been on for many decades, and thus appeals for “understanding” of Japan’s unique circumstances. But if nonproliferation standards are to work, they have to be common standards, applicable to all. Japan needs to take into account that going ahead with Rokkasho will likely initiate an East Asian competition in plutonium stockpiling that will be difficult to control. The right decision is to put Rokkasho on hold. And France should reconsider the dangers of making separated plutonium more widely available. It should stop selling reprocessing technology and stop encouraging others to reprocess.

Victor Gilinsky is a former US Nuclear Regulatory Commissioner. Henry Sokolski is executive director of The Nonproliferation Policy Education Center and author of Underestimated: Our Not So Peaceful Nuclear Future (2015).

Image: Flickr/IAEA Imagebank

China begins testing self-developed 1000 MW nuclear reactors

The Economic Times | PTI | 27 Oct, 2015

BEIJING: China has begun testing of its indigenously built 1000 mw nuclear reactors as part of the country’s ambitious plan to increase electricity generation and use of non-fossil-fuel energy.

The testing of the pressurized nuclear reactors started at Fangchenggang in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, the first nuclear power plant built outside China’s east coast.

The project, which began in 2010 in South China has now entered a 168-hour test period under full power to assess its readiness for commercial operation, the China National Radio (CNR) reported.

The project, co-established by China General Nuclear Power Group (CGN) with Guangxi Investment Group Co Ltd, included construction of two pressurized-water reactors using independently developed technology in its first phase.

Each of the reactors will have an installed capacity of 1,080 megawatts of electricity.

China is aggressively marketing its 1000 mw nuclear technology. Pakistan, Argentina and recently Britain opted for new Chinese nuclear reactors.

The plant is scheduled to contain six nuclear reactors, each with the capacity to produce 1,000 megawatts of electricity, CGN said.

Once complete, the plant is estimated to be able to provide 15 billion kilowatt hours of energy to the Beibu Gulf Economic Development Zone in Guangxi.

When compared with a coal-powered plant with a similar capacity, the new nuclear plant will be able to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 11.86 million tons every year, state-run Global Times reported today.

The nuclear plant in Guangxi is one of 23 key projects designed to help boost the development of China’s interior, which is underdeveloped compared with the eastern cities.

Construction of the plant comes amid China’s efforts to increase the use of non-fossil-fuel energy to comprise 15 per cent of the nation’s primary energy consumption by 2020.

China currently has 23 nuclear power generating units in operation and 27 under construction, stated to be the world’s largest number of reactors under construction.

As per the recent reports, China plans to build 110 nuclear power plants by 2030 with an investment of USD 78.8 billion, overtaking the US’ 100 nuclear reactors amid criticism that Beijing is yet to implement enough measures to develop safety control in nuclear plants.

China will build six to eight nuclear power plants annually for the next five years and operate 110 plants by 2030 to meet the urgent need for clean energy, according to local media reports.

China will invest 500 billion yuan (USD 78.8 billion) on domestically developed nuclear power plants, the report said, adding that the country plans to increase its electricity generation capacity to 58 gigawatts by 2020, three times the 2014 level.

China’s nuclear power equipment makers deserve a closer look, say analysts

China’s ambitious nuclear power build-out programme, coupled with potential export agreements, may add up to brighter days for the sector

South China Morning Post | Laura He | 27 October, 2015


A picture taken on October 21, 2013 shows development land where two nuclear reactors will be built at Hinkly Point on the west coast of England. China vowed on October 21 to take a one-third stake in Britain’s first nuclear power plant in decades in an EDF-led project. Photo: AFP

China’s nuclear power sector is beginning to light up in an interesting way.

An index of 44 nuclear-power related companies listed in Shenzhen and Shanghai, known as the CSI Nuclear Energy & Power, is up 17.1% so far in October. The recent advance is a rare bright spot for the sector, which has been suffering from an extended slump, along with much of world’s nuclear power industry, in the wake of the Fukushima Daiichi disaster.

The questions facing investors now, is whether the recent gains, not to mention the spotlight on the sector from China’s nuclear power agreements signed with Britain last week, add up to better times ahead for the China’s nuclear equipment makers.

The stakes are huge. China’s own domestic nuclear build-out programme is massive. As of July, China has 26 nuclear power plants operating, and a further 25 under construction, according to the World Nuclear Association.

That however, represents only what’s been on the drawing board for years. Looking ahead to 2020 China will need to initiate construction of 6GW to 8GW worth of nuclear power projects every year on average for the next five years, according to calculations by UBS. If Beijing adopts the enlarged target of 150 GW worth of nuclear power capacity by 2030, authorities will need to approve and commence the construction of 10 GW worth of nuclear power projects each year on average for the next 10 years, according to UBS.

“We believe China is entering a booming cycle of nuclear power plant construction,” wrote UBS analysts Bonan Li in an inaugural report on the sector dated September 2.

UBS said it favoured Hong Kong-listed Shanghai Electric as its top pick to benefit from the boom in nuclear power construction. Shanghai Electric’s shares have risen 16.5 per cent year to date, and are up 41 per cent in the past year. The share closed Tuesday’s trade at HK$4.81, little changed from its level five years earlier. UBS said it recommended that investor buy Shanghai Electric shares, and issuing a price target per share of HK$5.50 in a year. UBS said it had a “neutral” on fellow Hong Kong-listed nuclear power equipment makers Dongfang Electric Corporation and Harbin Electric. The shares of the two companies have risen 20 per cent and 12 per cent, respectively, since the start of October.

Analysts from Founder Securities named nuclear power valve manufacturer SUFA Technology Industry, rival Jiangsu Shentong Valve, and nuclear power equipment maker Sichuan Danfu Compressor as potential beneficiaries of an expected increase in exports of Chinese nuclear-power technology.

Based on existing contracts and preliminary agreements, during the next five years, China could possibly get eight nuclear exports deals and invest or build 21 nuclear reactors overseas, including two in Pakistan, two in Romania, two in Turkey, three in the UK, four in Argentina, and eight in South Africa, according to Founder Securities, which cited statistics from International Energy Agency.

The brokerage cautioned that whether the deals will materialise depends on the willingness of overseas buyers to use Chinese technology. China’s lack of experience in the economics of nuclear power and competition from rival technologies from developed countries were cited as potential risks that could derail China’s efforts to win the contracts.

China’s Nuclear Submarine Distraction

Appearing to be powerful can sometimes distract from building the capability that generates power.

The Diplomat | Robert Potter | October 1, 2015

The People Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) is presently undertaking a substantial modernization effort. This process has been the center of significant analysis for the better part of twenty years. Although it is quite clear that the development of a modern navy is a core component of Chinese government policy, this initiative is presently stuck between competing efforts. On the one hand, the People’s Republic is attempting to develop a naval capability that is modern and maximizes China’s present advantages. On the other, sits a desire to have a navy of a great power.

In many ways these efforts channel into the same programs. For example, China’s successful efforts to produce long production runs of surface combatants is widely recognized. But not every decision that the PLAN faces is absent a tradeoff between the development of capability and accumulation of prestige.

This is not the first time that a Chinese government has faced this sort of decision. During the self-strengthening movement of the late nineteenth century, the Qing Dynasty developed one of the largest fleets in the world. It was the fleet of a great power, consisting of large battleships and cruisers. The Qing government developed this fleet with the expectation that the prestige it conferred was representative of capability. The United States itself used its fleet of battleships to announce its presence on the world stage in the early twentieth century. However, the Beiyang Fleet, when tested, was soundly defeated by a better managed but less powerful Japanese fleet. Essentially, Qing Dynasty China had produced a very sharp tip of the spear while neglecting to actually develop the shaft.

This struggle between prestige and capability is not a uniquely Chinese problem. When Gustavus Adolphus had the warship Vasa built it was designed to be a symbol of Swedish power. The ship capsized less than a mile into its maiden voyage – it was too top heavy. One only really needs to look at the popular discussions that surround aircraft carriers today and the battleships of the past to see that appearing as powerful can sometimes distract from building the capability that generates power.

The tradeoffs between these variables can be seen in the PLAN’s efforts to develop undersea capability. This process began in 1993 when Beijing purchased four Russian Kilo Class submarines. These submarines gave the PLAN access to a level of technological capability that it could apply to future native designs. However, China made the decision to transition from depending on Russia for its ships to the development of locally produced designs.

To build an effective modern undersea capability, China will have to produce a large-scale production run of a native design or continue to purchase from Russia. The first option requires the PLAN to reverse a long history of building not particularly capable nuclear submarines. In 1971, China produced the Type 91 Submarine, a platform notorious for its noise and poor radiation shielding. In 1981, the PRC produced the Type 92. There is an open question as to how many were made, with rumors that a second was lost to an accident. In either case, the platform never entered into large-scale production.

Since that time China has struggled to produce a capable nuclear-powered attack submarine. The PLAN suffers from a very limited capability to engage in effective antisubmarine warfare. This compounds the need for Beijing to develop a strong platform in that space. The PLAN presently fields significantly more diesel submarines but converting this capability into a modern force of nuclear-powered attack submarines still appears to be a distant dream. Efforts to develop nuclear-powered attack submarines have not resulted in a platform that Beijing has been prepared to produce in the sort of numbers one would expect of a successful design. For example, the Type 93 nuclear powered attack submarine will probably be limited to a run of five and is considered to be louder than 1970s-era Soviet nuclear submarines. The replacement for the Type 93, the Type 95 is estimated to be louder than a Russian Akula built 25 years ago. This makes the Type 95 an unlikely candidate for mass production as well.

Concurrent with these frustrating realities is the PLAN’s efforts to produce a domestic nuclear ballistic missile carrying submarine force. Hans M. Kristensen finds it puzzling that Beijing would seek to field such a force, even though it is presently attempting to do so. Kristensen points to the fact that Chinese submarines would be vulnerable to the United States Navy and that Beijing has already invested significant resources hiding its nuclear deterrent on land. In spite of this, China is investing significantly in producing ballistic missile submarines. Kristensen is right that this decision is not rational, that China has no history of running long-range nuclear deterrent patrols, and that the submarines are not all that capable.

Yet the same is true of the PLAN’s aircraft carriers. The explanation is also the same: prestige. The Soviet Union and the United States operated ballistic missile submarines and their deployment is the mark of a great power. A strict effort to focus on capability would produce different priorities but the PLAN exists not just to be a navy but to be the navy of a great power. This desire might have a negative impact on PLAN and its modernization program, but naval procurement policy is not always rational.

What this means is that while China is attempting to develop the navy of a great power, other states are gaining on it. Vietnam has purchased Kilo Class submarines from Russia. Japan is also midway through the production of its Soryu-class of attack submarine. Most importantly, the United States has been stepping up production of its Virginia-class nuclear-powered attack submarines. The PLAN has produced substantial numbers of less capable diesel submarines, but it remains a long way short of closing the undersea gap with the United States.

Analysts predict regularly that China is seeking to develop its undersea capability and that it has the potential to produce a modern navy. Both of these statements might be true, but it could equally be argued that China’s ambition to develop the navy of a great power is getting in the way of its efforts to build a modern navy.

Robert Potter is a PhD Candidate at the University of Queensland. Previously he was a Visiting Scholar at Columbia University and took part in a research  program in North Korea and China in 2013. This piece previously was previously published at Indrastra.