Report says U.S. vulnerable to Chinese dominance in shipping

(HONOLULU) — Earlier this year, President Xi Jinping of the People’s Republic of China clinked glasses with the president of the United States at a state dinner in Washington. Today, two experts on China and sea power are warning in a new report of a potential clash between China and the United States on the high seas.

“Sea Strangulation: How the United States has Become Vulnerable to Chinese Maritime Coercion,” authored by political scientist and expert on "coercive diplomacy" Dr. Patrick Bratton along with a historian on sea power, retired U.S. Navy Capt. Carl Schuster, both of Hawaii Pacific University, details a challenge from China the U.S. is ill-prepared to meet. The paper outlines serious threats to U.S. civilians and military personnel as a result of an overdependence on the ships of other nations, in particular China, and simultaneously vulnerability caused by a dearth of American-flagged vessels in international trade.

The U.S. merchant marine now numbers less than 100 vessels. These-privately-owned ships, flying under the U.S. flag, play a key role in supplying our armed forces overseas and delivering commercial goods at home. Ninety percent of the equipment and material used by the U.S. military in recent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq was carried on these vessels.
The People’s Republic of China, by contrast, has nearly doubled its commercial fleet since 2010 with more than 3,900 ships now flying the Chinese flag. With expanding military as well as commercial power, say Bratton and Schuster, an increasingly hostile China can use its growing domination of global shipping to enforce its strategic and military objectives.

To view the report, click here.

By Professional Mariner Staff