History tells us that great powers develop for many reasons, but one key factor in development of an economy is access to trade, especially global trade via water. The rationale is that goods are transported across water for 1/15th the cost of goods transported by land – railroad. It is not an accident that of the top 18 economic powers on he planet, the first 17 have access seas with the first landlocked country being number 18 on the list.
This geographical determinism explains a lot. Japan, Great Britain, and the United States are global traders with robust naval histories, just look at a map and it makes sense as all three countries has unfettered access to the world`s oceans.
The US, the only navy standing after WWII, has grown to over 350 capital ships with 11 super carriers and 10 smaller carriers, all built to protect the global trade system and ensure that Japan, China, Germany and 70 other nations have energy and food security.
The Bretton-Woods System was designed around US Naval Power Projection, making aircraft carriers the military tool of choice allowing a US Air Force base (that is what a carrier really is in fact), access to every city in Europe, Asia and Latin America. In the 1990s, the US placed two massive carriers – 80 planes each – right off the coast of Communist China to reduce pressure on Taiwan in the Third Taiwan Strait Crisis.
China was humiliated and vowed that it would develop weapons to destroy all US capital ships that threaten Beijing. China has delivered on its promise when it conducted an exercise on July 1 as it launched 6 “carrier killers” into the disputed South China Sea. This of course is a direct challenge to US (and to a lesser extent) Japan and India, all of who have patrolled the shipping lanes with carriers and missile destroyers. The missiles are believed to be the Dongfeng-21D, which have a range of 1,500 kilometer and could be deployed to protect contested waters. US sources suggest that all 6 missiles were fired and landed just north of the Spratly Islands, which China is now militarizing.
Prior to the launch, the Maritime safety Administration had announced that there would be “military training” in the area from June 29 to July 3, warning all ships that this area was unsafe, The DF-21D is nicknamed “air craft carrier killer” is a mobile launch system that can be moved along the coast of southern China – there are over 10 ports that need protection for Chinese access to sea lanes.
This is the first time that China has launched live ammunition shooting with weapons that are specifically designed to nullify the US naval threat. According to some experts, China can use these new missile systems to force the US carrier fleet to keep a distance for protection, a distance that is making the South China Sea a zone specifically for the Chinese Navy.
Japan, India and other naval powers in the region may be forced to change their patrol operations in the region as this missile system is truly a game changer for China.