- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 3, 2014

A new report given to Congress by the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission says that by 2020 China’s fleet is projected to be larger than America’s.

The annual report asserts that within six years China will have 351 ships in its fleet and requests that Congress increase the U.S. Pacific fleet up to 67 ships. The U.S. Navy currently has 289 deployable battle force ships.

The commission responded to challenges that China only possesses one aircraft carrier that lacks an aircraft wing capable of operating off a carrier deck by citing weapons systems the nation is developing to make up for the imbalance.

“China is pursuing a missile-centric strategy with the purpose of holding U.S. aircraft carriers at high risk if they operate in China’s near seas and thereby hinder their access to those waters in the event of a crisis. Given China’s growing navy and the U.S. Navy’s planned decline in the size of its fleet, the balance of power and presence in the region is shifting in China’s favor,” the commission stated, military.com reported Wednesday.

Virginia Republican Randy Forbes, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee Seapower and Projection Forces subcommittee, also brought attention to China’s reliance on submarines.

“What they are doing with patrols is just the tip of the iceberg. It is not just the number of the ships, but within five to eight years they will have about 82 submarines in the Asia Pacific area and we will have about 32 to 34,” Mr. Forbes said, Military.com reported.

The commission estimated that China spent $131 billion on defense in 2014, which was a 12.2 percent jump from the previous year.

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