The chief of the US naval operations expressed concern Thursday about competition from China's flourishing ship building sector, while a lawmaker said it could soon be building more warships that the United States.
"The fact that our shipbuilding capacity and industry is not as competitive as other builders around the world is cause for concern," Admiral Gary Roughead told the House of Representatives Armed Services Committee.
Singling out China, he said: "They are very competitive on the world market. There is no question that their ship building capability is increasing rapidly."
Republican lawmaker Duncan Hunter told the hearing that China was turning out 5,000 commercial ships a year, against 300 by the United States, and an average of three submarines a year, to the United States' one.
China is also producing nearly five times as much steel as the United States, he said -- some 480 million tons a year.
"All that is giving them the industrial base that could allow the Chinese naval capability to outstrip the United States if they turn that commercial ship building capability into warship-building capability," Hunter said.
Roughead added: "I believe that not in a distant future they will likely surpass Korea as the prominent ship builder in the world."
Copyright AFP 2007.