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The three major bases of the Chinese Navy can defend from three directions and collectively fend off external threats. Where will the fourth fleet be established in the future?

ahong

By ahongPublished 23 days ago 3 min read

China's Three Major Fleets: A Strategic Deployment

Since its founding, China has placed great emphasis on the deployment and development of naval forces. In 1955 and 1960, the East Sea Fleet, South Sea Fleet, and North Sea Fleet were established respectively.

The South Sea Fleet, established in 1955, is primarily responsible for safeguarding China's maritime rights and territorial sovereignty in the South China Sea. Given the South China Sea's status as one of the busiest trade routes, the fleet also plays a crucial role in protecting maritime security. With a vast area of responsibility and complex situations to navigate, this fleet is one of China's largest and most technologically advanced, with its base located in Zhanjiang City. Situated at the southwestern tip of Guangdong Province, Zhanjiang covers an area of approximately 13,200 square kilometers. It is strategically positioned at the junction of Guangdong, Guangxi, and Hainan provinces, serving as a gateway for trade with South and Southeast Asia and a key node in China's Belt and Road Initiative.

The East Sea Fleet, also established in 1955, is under the command of the Eastern Theater Command. Initially based in Shanghai, it was relocated to Ningbo City, Zhejiang Province, in the 1970s. Ningbo, with an area of about 9,816 square kilometers, is located on the northeastern coast of Zhejiang, bordering the Hangzhou Bay to the north and connected to Taizhou to the south. The city's coastline is intricate, with numerous islands providing a natural barrier, making it an ideal location for a naval base.

The North Sea Fleet was formed in 1960, based on the recovered Port Arthur (Lüshunkou) and the Qingdao base directly under the navy. Qingdao, located on the southern side of the Shandong Peninsula, has a coastline of about 862 kilometers. It is a vital maritime hub and defensive stronghold, with the fleet responsible for the defense of the Yellow Sea and the Bohai Sea. Qingdao's natural harbors, especially Jiaozhou Bay, offer strategic depth and are free from ice in winter, making it an excellent location for a naval base.

The Future of China's Fourth Fleet: A Strategic Consideration

While China's coastal deployment is nearly flawless, the country also possesses Taiwan Island, Hainan Island, and numerous islands in the South China Sea. To extend its influence further into the Pacific Ocean, a new base closer to the Pacific and free from external interference is desirable. Many believe that Taiwan would be an ideal location for China's fourth fleet.

Geographically, Taiwan is situated off the eastern coast of Fujian Province, separated from the mainland by the Taiwan Strait, bordered by the East China Sea to the north and the South China Sea to the south. If a naval base were established on Taiwan, China's maritime defense line could be pushed at least 500 kilometers into the Pacific, bypassing the Japanese archipelago and the Ryukyu Islands, effectively breaking through the first island chain.

Moreover, the current distance between the South Sea Fleet's base in Zhanjiang and the East Sea Fleet's base in Ningbo limits their joint operational capabilities. A fourth fleet based in Taiwan could create a new military growth pole between Zhanjiang and Ningbo, enabling true joint naval and military operations and extending the area of influence.

Considering the complexity and importance of the South China Sea, with external forces such as the US and the Philippines showing interest, the South Sea Fleet, based in Zhanjiang, already has a strong presence in the region, supported by artificial islands like Yongxing, Meiji, Yongshu, and Zhubi. However, further defense deployment on Taiwan Island would strengthen China's control over the South China Sea and alleviate pressure on the South Sea Fleet.

In conclusion, if China were to establish a fourth naval fleet, Taiwan Island would be the optimal location for its base, making China's coastal defense in the southeast impregnable.

World HistoryTriviaNarrativesModern

About the Creator

ahong

I'm Ahong, a writer painting China's stories for the world. Dive into tales that blend tradition with the contemporary, right from the heart of China.

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