China is building a modern and regionally powerful Navy with a modest but growing capability for conducting operations beyond China s near-seas region. 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. The question 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. As a part of the U.S. strategic rebalancing toward the Asia-Pacific region announced in January 2012, Department of Defense (DOD) planning is placing an increased emphasis on the Asia- Pacific region. Observers expect that, as a result, there will be a stronger emphasis in DOD planning on U.S. naval and air forces. Administration officials have stated that notwithstanding constraints on U.S. defense spending, DOD will seek to protect initiatives relating to the U.S. military presence in the Asia-Pacific region.