With the impending launch of its first aircraft carrier, China’s navy will have reached another milestone in its shipbuilding program. While much attention is focused on its implications for Beijing’s most prominent concerns—those of Taiwan and contingencies for American involvement—less attention in the West has been devoted to the implications for the countries of South and Southeast Asia. Hence, we will examine the operational realities of China’s new-found naval strength as well as the correlation of forces in those theaters. Doing so will help us understand which aspects of the power balance are likely to shift; and what measures countries facing Chinese seapower—notably India, the Philippines, and Vietnam—may have to take to uphold their interests.
Felix K. Chang is a co-founder of Avenir Bold, a venture consultancy. He was previously a consultant in Booz Allen Hamilton’s Strategy and Organization practice; among his clients were the U.S. Department of Energy, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Department of the Treasury, and other agencies. Earlier, he served as a senior planner and an intelligence officer in the U.S. Department of Defense and a business advisor at Mobil Oil Corporation, where he dealt with strategic planning for upstream and midstream investments throughout Asia and Africa. His publications include articles in American Interest, National Interest, Orbis, and Parameters. His ongoing research concentrates on military, economic, and energy security issues in Asia as well as the financial industry around the world. He received his M.B.A. from Duke University and M.A. and B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania.