China never had any history of being a naval power. Right from the 12th century when the Mongol fleet made an attempt to invade Japan and was destroyed by a "divine wind" till the advent of World War II, the Chinese Navy remained nothing more than a coastal defence force. During World War II the Imperial navy blockaded the ports of China and throttled any ocean going activity. After the victory of Mao Tse Tung in 1948 the Chinese began a conscientious attempt to build up naval power.
Buildup of the navy.
Initially the Chinese paid greater attention to their army and air force. It built a massive army as it feared an invasion by the Nationalists holed up in Formosa. The Chinese also fought wars during the period after World War II with the US in Korea, India in 1962 and Vietnam in 1983. Towards the end of the eighties the Chinese realised that their global ambitions could not be sustained without a blue water navy. They began a feverish construction of warships and submarines to match the US power in Pacific and the waters around China like the South China Sea. The Chinese were also wary of Japan which is a US ally.
The Chinese realising that their reach was limited bought an old aircraft carrier and refurbished it. Sea trials are underway, but without a aircraft carrier the reach of the navy is limited. This is galling for the Chinese who are now constructing aircraft carriers to match US naval power.
Assessment of the Chinese Navy.
The Chinese are faced by the 7th fleet that patrols the seas around China. Despite an aircraft carrier the Chinese Navy has severe limitations. One aircraft carrier, which is as yet not fully operational is a severe handicap. The reach of the navy is thus limited and hence the stress is on submarines. The US is the watchdog of the Oceans around China and had #military alliances with South Korea, Japan and Philippines. It also guards the strait separating Taiwan from China. The Chinese cannot afford any adventurism in this region as their naval power is very limited.
The Chinese have realized their limitations and are feverishly building warships to outstrip the US fleet. One factor militates against China is lack of operational experience in running a blue water navy and operating carriers. Thus though the Chinese Navy may match the US fleet in numbers, it's real time performance may not match the professionalism of the US and Japan navy. China has a long way to go to match the US as a world naval power. #Foreign Policy