China Naval Modernization: Implications for U.S. Navy Capabilities - Background and Issues for Congress [November 1, 2011] [open pdf - 1MB]
"The question of how the United States should respond to China's military modernization effort, including its naval modernization effort, has emerged as a key issue in U.S. defense planning. Admiral Michael Mullen, the then-Chairman of the Joints Chiefs of Staff, stated in June 2010 that 'I have moved from being curious to being genuinely concerned' about China's military programs. The question of how the United States should respond to China's military modernization effort is of particular importance to the U.S. Navy, because many U.S. military programs for countering improved Chinese military forces would fall within the Navy's budget. Decisions that Congress and the executive branch make regarding U.S. Navy programs for countering improved Chinese maritime military capabilities could affect the likelihood or possible outcome of a potential U.S.-Chinese military conflict in the Pacific over Taiwan or some other issue. Some observers consider such a conflict to be very unlikely, in part because of significant U.S.-Chinese economic linkages and the tremendous damage that such a conflict could cause on both sides. […] Potential oversight issues for Congress include the following: whether, in the context of anticipated reductions in planned levels of defense spending, the U.S. Navy in coming years will be large enough to adequately counter improved Chinese maritime anti-access forces while also adequately performing other missions of interest to U.S. policymakers around the world; the Navy's ability to counter Chinese ASBMs [anti-ship ballistic missiles] and submarines; and whether the Navy, in response to China's maritime anti-access capabilities, should shift over time to a more distributed fleet architecture."
CRS Report for Congress, RL33153