Naval Nuances: China and the HIgh Seas
According to the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) as quoted in The Economist, "China now has more warships than America, which long possessed the biggest fleet". I would argue that - despite what you may think of some of America's military misadventures - the world has been made a generally safer place by U.S. naval superiority. China's naval push is, therefore, a potential game-changer.
I read somewhere last year that China at the time had zero aircraft carriers (the cornerstone of modern warfare) in the water, but they had eight currently under construction - and that other aspects of the Chinese military were ramping-up by leaps and bounds. Some will say that it's just natural that the world's economic engine would need a bigger military, perhaps to fight pirates off the coast of Somalia or in the South China Sea that threaten vital shipping.
Others will say there's nothing to worry about - they need us as much as we need them, blah, blah, blah - and, after all, their new navy could contribute to international peacekeeping efforts. I'm sure NATO commanders are relieved. And, of course, who's to say that Chinese naval commanders are as well-schooled and crafty as ours? Could be years before they're a real challenge to American domination of the high seas. I suppose.
But let's remember, China has demographic problems, population problems, political problems, agricultural problems (I understand they've lost about 1/3 of their topsoil in recent years due to dust storms) - in fact, they have lots of serious problems. The Chinese are looking outward toward the rest of the world to solve these problems, so far peacefully via trade with nations from Venezuela to Africa, and that means the oceans are their conduit.
Also let's not forget that China is also a police state whose interests often directly conflict with our interests, as evidenced by the extensive Chinese espionage that goes on in the West. If the U.S. can exert pressure on world hot spots by parking a flotilla offshore (as they presently are off Iran's coastal waters) then the Chinese can do the same - and will.