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Rising Sun*
05-04-2007, 08:53 AM
China may patrol sea ship lanes
Brendan Nicholson
May 4, 2007

CHINA is likely to send submarines and other warships from its rapidly growing navy to patrol the sea lanes carrying mineral resources from Australia, says a senior US naval officer.

The commander of US naval forces in Japan, Rear-Admiral James Kelly, said in Canberra yesterday he believed China was developing a blue water navy to protect the flow of raw materials from countries such as Australia as its economy grew dramatically.

Local defence analysts have warned recently that Australia needs to build up its anti-submarine warfare capability and its own submarine force to match a naval build-up by many regional nations including China.

In the past the Chinese navy has tended to operate in or close to Chinese territorial waters.

Rear-Admiral Kelly said it was obvious that the Chinese navy was building up. "Their build-up is certainly associated with a growing economy. They're number three in the world now behind the US and Japan."

Like the US, it was likely that Beijing believed it had to have a blue water navy to protect its interests around the globe.

China was picking up global contracts at a rapid rate to satisfy its energy needs for the future. "Of course many of those that are minerals-related are with you here in Australia."

Rear-Admiral Kelly said the episode in which a Chinese submarine surfaced near a US aircraft carrier near Okinawa last year alerted the US to a significant change in Chinese naval attitude. "I am sure it was a demonstration of some sort but what point they were physically trying to make, who knows really what that is?

"My take is that they are trying to send a signal that 'we're not just going to operate in our own territorial waters or within 12 miles of the coast. We're going to get out and about a bit'.

"It's also a pretty good indication of the way they intend to move," he said.

Rear-Admiral Kelly said that as Chinese ships travelled further afield it would become increasingly important to open up clear communications between the Chinese navy and the navies of the US and its allies. This was crucial to ensure that with the increased naval traffic everybody understood the rules of the road and how each other's ships operated.

The US and senior US and Chinese naval officers had exchanged visits to improve communications, he said.

Rear-Admiral Kelly was in Australia to mark the 65th anniversary of the Battle of the Coral Sea which helped stop the Japanese advance towards Australia.

Yesterday he said the US and Japan would be pleased to see Australia involved in joint plans for a missile defence system now being negotiated between Tokyo and Washington.

North Korea fired a missile over Japan in 1998 and Japan decided then to buy both land and sea-based anti-missile systems from the US.

The sea-based Standard missiles will be placed aboard four air-warfare destroyers similar to those Australia is building.

Australia and Japan signed a security agreement in March.
http://www.theage.com.au/news/world/china-may-patrol-sea-ship-lanes/2007/05/03/1177788309795.html

China is protecting the merchant shipping going to China from WHAT?

How many 'maybes' 'possibles' etc are in that article???

This is the rubbish that starts arms races.