Though China’s navy is generally a mystery to the west, and its build-up and intentions are often characterized as lacking transparency, a Chinese navy official insists that the country’s intentions are purely defense orientated.
In translating an explanation from a superior officer, Liu Hongwei, Senior Captain, Naval Attache at the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China to the U.S., explained: We will not fire the first shot, but when fired upon, the aggressor will not fire a second shot.
Liu Hongwei was the featured luncheon speaker at a Surface Navy Association’s (SNA) Greater Washington Chapter luncheon, held July 24, 2007 at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City.
Though not able to provide specific numbers regarding the Chinese navy fleet and newbuilding program, Liu Hongwei shared with attendees some insights as to the decision making structure and composition of Chinese naval forces.
The Chinese Navy – established April 23, 1949 – power structure consists of four departments: Headquarters, Political, Logistical and Armament. Major decisions are made by committee rather than by a single person, according to Liu Hongwei, and both the Headquarter and Political leaders share equal power.
The Chinese Navy consists of three fleets: the North Sea fleet; the East Sea fleet and the South Sea fleet
, with each fleet services by two or three naval bases. Each fleet is composed in five broad categories: submarine; surface warships; naval aviation; marine corps and coastal defense.