China's Harbin guided missile destroyer, left, and the DDG-139 Ningbo Sovremenny-class Type-956EM destroyer

China’s powerful military is considered to be a master at concealing its intentions. But there is no secret about how it plans to destroy American aircraft carriers if rivalry becomes war. At November’s biennial air show in the southern city of Zhuhai, the biggest state-owned missile maker, China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation Ltd., screened an animation showing a hostile “blue force,” comprising an aircraft carrier, escort ships and strike aircraft, approaching “red force” territory. On a giant screen, the animation showed a barrage of the Chinese company’s missiles launched from “red force” warships, submarines, shore batteries and aircraft wreaking havoc on the escort vessels around the carrier. In a final salvo, two missiles plunge onto the flight deck of the carrier and a third slams into the side of the hull near the bow.

The fate of the ship is an unmistakable message to an America that has long dominated the globe from its mighty aircraft carriers and sprawling network of hundreds of bases. China’s military is now making giant strides toward replacing the United States as the supreme power in Asia. With the Pentagon distracted by almost two decades of costly war in the Middle East and Afghanistan, the Chinese military, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), has exploited a period of sustained budget increases and rapid technical improvement to build and deploy an arsenal of advanced missiles.

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