Pete Speer writes:
Sam Roggeveen's article shows a limited understanding both of submarine warfare and the strategic implications of a multi-platform sea control mission in what the PRC believes to be its inland sea.
What it has done and will continue to do is ostensibly divide its forces, giving each a particular mission and averting thereby criticism of the military nature of its National Objectives. The Yellow, East China and South China Seas plus the Taiwan Straits and indeed Taiwan itself are part and parcel of the PRC's National Economic Objectives. In the most traditional sense the Sea Lines of Communication are essential to the Chinese economy. It is interdiction which is to be feared.
The lesson of our submarine warfare against Japan in World War II and its effectiveness in denying the movement of raw materials as well as military forces was significant in shortening World War II. Chinese ports suck up millions of tons of raw materials every year. SLOC must be kept free at all costs.
To accomplish this the PLA-Navy is building and will operate the type of frigates and run silent non-nuclear submarines to keep the way clear. It further intends to extend this zone to preclude opposing forces from moving within ship launched SSM missile range as well as the strike aircraft from our Carrier Battle Groups.
There is an essential difference between 1945 and today. Seabottom minerals and oil and gas deposits underneath the seabed are important components contributing to the Security of the PRC. Controlling them will lessen dependence on further distant resources. Fishing rights are important to provide food to the coastal cities. The PRC needs every ounce of natural resources, every gram of fish it can obtain from the three bordering seas. Chasing off Philippine fishermen from Scarborough Shoals with Fishery Protection ships is a lot less militaristic than using modern Chinese frigates.
To do this it has crafted an interesting all encompassing approach. It has split its forces into segments: the PLA-N, the Coast Guard, the Fisheries Protection Agency. These are not independent agencies. They work under central direction in Beijing at the highest levels with a singular agenda.
The PRC has already announced its medium term and long term objectives — extending its sphere of influence around Japan and to the east of the island nations of the western Pacific, even drawing Australia and New Zealand into its orbit.
In this light 'anti-access' needs to be properly defined. It applies to the ability of the PRC to regulate economic takings and to enforce its regulatory hegemony.