A famous quote by a German admiral called Enrich Raeder goes as, “All wars will be settled by sea power”.
This could no more be true. Every powerful nation the world has seen in the relatively modern era has had a powerful navy for the projection of their power to the shores of other lands.
The best example can be seen in Great Britain. However, since World War-II, the United States of America surpassed the navy of Britannia and raised herself as a global superpower.
The US for many decades has enjoyed her Hegemony in the world’s oceans, especially in the Pacific Ocean. During the Cold War, the Pacific Fleet of the Soviet Union was often smaller than her Northern fleet and even at times smaller than the Baltic fleet, due to the Russian East being so sparsely populated. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, the US enjoyed uncontested hegemony in the world oceans. However, that status-quo is beginning to change once more.
In the East is a sleeping dragon rising from sleep. In the last three decades, China’s Navy went from a relatively and heavily outdated navy which had little to no power projection capabilities out in the Pacific, to now emerging as a strong Blue-Water navy.
It is equipped with multiple Aircraft-Carriers and a plethora of other modern warships. Whereas the US has somewhat scaled back in her naval capabilities. The US operates one less Aircraft-Carrier than she did twenty years ago, and that number may further decline in the coming years. However, it would be wrong to assume that the US has atrophied in sea power.
With two already built and no plans to stop the construction of more, China’s Aircraft-Carriers have gotten the most attention. Chinese are constructing new warships at impressive numbers. China is rapidly developing into a superpower and with it a super navy.
China has already built up an incredible amount of cruise missiles which are capable of being launched on Chinese warships. The Type-55 destroyer is said to be armed with dozens of CJ-10 cruise missiles, which are similar in range and warhead size to the American Tomahawk missile. In the next few years, these ships could be operating in the Eastern Pacific, just as the American ships operate off the coast of China. The US will no longer have the opportunity to operate in the Pacific uncontested.
One thing China does not have in her favour, are her neighbours. The US borders two major oceans; the Pacific, and the Atlantic. Whereas China only borders the Pacific. And surrounding China are countries which are either direct allies or friendly to the US. The countries as South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, and to a lesser extent, Philippines and Vietnam would make a wall around China in the event of a conflict.
Any Chinese vessels which can make their way through will have to face the logistical issue of getting their resupplies from the mainland. To counter this issue, China may have to conquer or take out either of these nations.
China and Taiwan have an interesting relationship. After the expulsion of the Japanese in World War-II, China fell into a civil war where the communists and nationalists fought over control of China. As the communists won, the nationalists were pushed back to the island of Taiwan where they set up a government and remain to this day. China has always shown interest in the retaking of Taiwan, and as she grows more and more powerful she may attempt such a thing in the future. But this may prove a very costly option for China.
The other route China could go would be to make new allies. But as the disputes continue in the South-China Sea, it seems rather difficult for the time being for China to do so either. In short, the US will soon no longer be the sole superpower in the Pacific, as China has become a worthy adversary. However, it is unlikely that China will be able to dislodge the US from the Pacific in the foreseeable future.