The balance of military power in the region has tilted sharply in China’s favor with this latest weapon addition.
On June 17, the Reuters news agency reported that China held a ceremony to launch the country’s third aircraft carrier, the Fujian.
This is said to be the first aircraft carrier designed and built entirely by domestic technology, compared to the two previous ones, Liaoning and Shandong, which originated in the former Soviet Union.
This shows that China’s military shipbuilding capacity has reached a new step, and with this new addition, the strength of China’s navy will increase markedly.
Notably, this move comes just days after Xi Jinping signed a decree allowing the Chinese military to conduct military operations abroad.
Emphasizing that military operations carried out by the country’s troops abroad must not be warlike, but with Russia calling the invasion of Ukraine a “special military operation” rather than a war, many experts fear China could do the same.
Talking to Radio Free Asia, Master Hoang Viet, an expert in South China Sea studies and international relations, said that with China having a third aircraft carrier, the military balance in the region is in favor of Beijing.
“If you compare the whole Southeast Asia region, especially the South China Sea area, it is clear that no country in this region can keep up with China.
Recently, China announced aircraft like J20, and now with such an aircraft carrier, it is clear that China’s military power in the sea has surpassed many Southeast Asian countries.
We know that Southeast Asia has many countries involved in disputes in the South China Sea [Vietnam calls it the East Sea.]
This is put in the context that in recent times, China has taken a lot of actions with the ambition to show its strength and ambition to monopolize the South China Sea.
With China’s power increasing, it will certainly continue to take actions in the South China Sea area, and this will put countries in Southeast Asia, including Vietnam in a new danger.”
China has always considered Taiwan a part of its territory, so allowing the military to conduct military operations abroad is not aimed at the self-governing island, rather it is likely that the other countries in Southeast Asia are having disputes over islands in the sea are China’s main targets.
Commenting on this aspect, Master Hoang Viet said:
“Then this should definitely target Southeast Asian countries first, except for the Taiwan issue, obviously Southeast Asian countries will be China’s first target.
Because we already know that one of the biggest goals and China makes no secret, is how to master the South China Sea, and monopolize the sea. With such strength and regulations, it is clear that China is targeting this area.
During the past time, we see with its diplomatic activities, as well as various activities, China is trying to place Southeast Asia at least within its sphere of influence.”