ANBOUND's Perspective: Fujian Aircraft Carrier Owes Its Existence to the BRI
With China officially
launching its aircraft carrier Fujian, questions have arisen concerning such a
development. Here, we have answered some questions on different levels
according to the timeline, so as to present a clearer picture of the situation,
showing the close relations between China’s economy and the country’s national
As things stand, the vessel,
referred to as a Type 003 carrier, owes its existence to China’s Belt and Road
Initiative (BRI) and the “golden decade” in its economic development.
The emergence of the BRI
requires China to defend its maritime routes. In the hypothetical scenario
where the BRI does not exist, China’s geopolitical interest would not have
expanded to the extent that a blue-water navy is necessary. Ukraine for instance
has no navy at all, yet it still can control the Black Sea with shore-based “Harpoon”
missiles. Therefore, without global interests, there would be no aircraft
It should be remembered
that not only the construction, but also the maintenance of aircraft carriers would
require financial resources, and such resources were obtained through China’s
economic development. In Russia’s case, after the disintegration of the Soviet
Union and the collapse of Russia’s economy, its aircraft carrier fleet had to
be disbanded, and this is a good example of the relations between the national
defense with the economy. It is precisely because of the "Golden
Decade" of China's economy that laid the foundation for the country to
establish its blue-water navy today.
The next question is, why did
China launch the BRI? How did such an initiative come into being?
With China emerging as the
major manufacturer for the rest of the world, conflicts follow suit. Furthermore,
overcapacity eventually kept the price down, then came the overstocked inventory
and debts. In resolving such issues, I had thought of the principle of the
Marshall Plan, and this formed the predecessor and foundation of the BRI. Any detailed
discussion on this topic would be long and arduous, yet in essence, the focus
is on transferring production capacity, increasing investment in the world,
transferring capital, and so on. These are all, in fact, related to resolving
China's own problems, that is to maintain its stable development.
This suggestion has
attracted the attention of the Chinese leadership, and related policies were
eventually introduced. After such a formation process, the policy was finally
implemented as the BRI. It is now harder for the public to find books and
narratives about the formation process of the BRI. The reason is that most did
not go through such a process at all, and many only participated in it later.
This, of course, does not mean that the policy formation process did not exist.
After all, there is cause and effect for everything. As for the subsequent
implementation results of the grand plan of the BRI, how a large number of
projects went out of control is a different story, with its own causes and
The final question is, why
did the “golden decade” come into play in China?
The BRI has created numerous
demands, as was originally intended. In those years, not only did Chinese enterprises
become larger and more prominent, but the annual growth rate of the
government’s fiscal year also far exceeded the growth rate of GDP. It was such
an accumulation of financial resources that supported the construction and
development of aircraft carriers and other grand projects.
It is common knowledge that
China’s economy entered a high growth stage after the year 2000. The annual
economic growth rate was more than 10%, i.e., at a double-digit growth stage.
Even when faced with the Wall Street financial crisis in 2008, China reacted by
issuing an RMB 4 trillion economic stimulus package and the crisis did not
impact the country much. The downturn in China's economy was something that
happened after 2012, and there are hard data that can prove this.
The so-called “golden
decade” refers to an approximate time period where the main growth drivers are
as follows: 1. The presence of a large amount of foreign investment and the
continuous investment of foreign companies in China, making the country the
world's factory during that time. 2. China's large number of net exports
supported its economic growth. 3. Urbanization drove the development of the
real estate sector, which in turn pushed the Chinese consumption and supported the
economic growth. 4. China's currency issuance, as well as investment, had
driven its economic development. As it is well-known, the country’s economic
growth is investment-driven. These factors worked together to form China's
"golden decade" and promote the rise of its economy into a salient
The financial resources
generated enabled the country to undertake various projects, including constructing
aircraft carriers. Some of these projects were unimaginable in the past, yet China
managed to accomplish them, such as high-speed rail networks, manned
spaceflight, and so on. However, all these needed both demand and money. Of
course, demand and money do not exist out of thin air, and there are driving
factors behind them.
As an independent think
tank, ANBOUND has the honor of participating in these great processes to a
certain extent at a fundamental level through the construction of public
policies, as well as in policy formation. Here, we briefly introduce some of
the logical relationships and basic principles.
Looking into the future, China
will face continuous challenges. From the point of view of naval projects such
as aircraft carriers, as an important military asset in the future, their very existence
will require more financial resources. To sustain them, China will either need
to continue gaining money or it will need to tighten its belt. These are the
only two options left for China.