Not in the near term, surely, but recent reports indicate that the People’s Liberation Army-Navy (PLAN) has medium and long term goals that are well beyond regional command. While the US Navy remains well ahead of China both quantitatively and qualitatively, the diffusion of technology is narrowing the qualitative gap, and the shrinking of US military budgets is narrowing it quantitatively. Indeed, budget woes are also threatening the qualitative edge – basic R&D and the military industrial base itself are endangered, some claim.
The answer is going to have to be more burden sharing amongst our allies. Japan is under direct threat from Chinese missile advances – at least 1000 missiles are currently targeted at Tokyo alone, and China plans on building 50,000 new missiles per year in the near future. Another US ally on the other side of the world – Israel – is also under constant threat of missile attack and has developed systems and tactics to defeat them. A three way relationship between the US, Israel and Japan combining the technological prowess of all three with the operational experience of Israel should be able to build a real counter to this threat without breaking the budget of any one nation.
In the near and medium terms, at least, if real missile defense can be mastered, then the most serious Chinese naval threat can be muted, and buy another few decades when the US Navy does not have to contest for global control of the seas.