Tuesday, 29 October 2013
China demystifying nuclear subs a welcome move
Wide coverage has been given to the Chinese nuclear submarine force in Chinese State media recently, considered to be a showcase of China's strategic master card. China's debut in this field is believed to have deep implication.
Being confident is of prime importance to achieve military transparency. US submarines are open to visitors, so are parts of the Pentagon. Washington prefers to display power, which will convince the public of the national security while deterring opponents. It obviously believes that core military power being exposed to the public could generate more positive effects, distracting attention from worrying about the "leakage of secrets."
Chinese understanding of "state secrets" is changing as its military power keeps increasing. On one hand, China is facing a heavier burden of keeping secrets due to soaring external interests on intelligence information about it. On the other hand, it has more room to win strategic gains through actively releasing some information. Is China safe? Are there any external forces daring to risk a strategic showdown with China or radically provoke China over its core interests? Such questions linger on in the minds of the public.
Besides being an economic giant, China is powerful in possessing a credible second-strike nuclear capability. However, some countries haven't taken this into serious consideration when constituting their China policy, leading to a frivolous attitude toward China in public opinion.
Therefore, partly revealing the Chinese nuclear submarine force is in the interests of China. It could strengthen cohesion of Chinese society and enhance a comprehensive understanding of China. There is necessity that China should summarize its efforts in realizing military transparency and keep on moving forward.
For a modern power, there is rare opportunity to input core military power, which is mainly assuming a deterrent role, into practical war. To build the military we need to ensure its actual combat capacity, as well as convert it into strategic deterrence. Being in a sensitive position in the process of a peaceful rise, China will see a growing demand for strategic deterrence.
The current nuclear capability of China and the world's understanding of it cannot guarantee China's strategic deterrence not to be challenged. The limited number of its nuclear submarines is not enough to quell the idea of damaging China's interest in an extreme way. Jimmy Kimmel's shocking show demonstrates that many people in the West think they can choose to be friendly with China, but they don't have to be.
China needs to make it clear that the only choice is not to challenge China's core interest. To cultivate such thinking, there remains tedious work to do. Developing marine-based nuclear power is part of such work. Perhaps it will give excuse to "China Threat" speculation but the benefit will far eclipse the trouble created by external opinions.
Domestically it is of great significance to open some of the strategic military facilities where the public can have direct access to learn about China's aircraft carrier, missile base or witness a major military exercise. It is a way to help foster people's support for national defense, which is more and more important in modern society.
By Global Times
1. China unveils nuke submarine, moving towards military transparency
2. China's Nuclear Submarine Timeline: