They don't have the force structure to participate in modern CEC environments
They don't have an effective sub force (even though they are making serious efforts to change that)
They don't have any expeditionary capability
They don't have any history in running blue water exercises
They don't have any practical experience in running fleet events
They don't have an effective marine force (as in self contained corp) to conduct discrete expeditionary work,
They're a long way from having japanese capability - let alone putting into place a coherent doctrine that they need to develop along with the modern force elements.
in absolute terms, they're nowhere near the sth koreans at a force maturity and force development level.
they are literally 5 years away from demonstrating the basic force constructs - and IMO closer to 10 years. At the same time, there will be a few countries in the PACRIm that will not be standing still and will not be letting china get an easy run to "parity" - let alone superiority
Agree wrt capability comparisons.
However, China still has the 2nd largest fleet in the world and working its way up. Largest is still determined by numbers.
Whilst Japanese, South Korean and navies that utilise traditional western naval training methods have fairly well known and/or documented capabilities, it is more difficult to gauge chinese technical capabilities and the operational effectiveness of their vessels particularly their subs. The publication of OMTE in 2008 raised a few eyebrows in US circles and received mention in the CMPR.
As an example, there is the claim that their force structure does not enable CEC or cooperative engagement capabilities. However datalinks are extensively used particularly in view of chinese capabilities in computing. At the same time, electronic warfare is recognised as a key element in chinese warfare (ie informationalization). Force coordination is enhanced through the introduction of new capabilites eg AEW, MP aircraft and joint exercises between the various arms etc. Joints ops was first noted as part of doctrine in 1999. At the very least, there are already surface appearances of the building blocks of CEC.
They may not be considered by some to have expeditionary and blue water capabilities but they have deployed their vessels for anti-piracy operations in the Indian ocean and started raising eyebrows when they deployed vessels off and past okinawa into the South China Sea in April of this year.
Once the anticipated CV begins operations, it is difficult to characterise the PLAN as a non-blue water navy.
Recently, more and more analysts are questioning what exactly is China's naval doctrine. If one reviews the 2010 CMPR, PLA Navy doctrine for maritime operations is stated as focussing on six offensive and defensive campaigns: blockade, anti-sea lines of communication, maritime-land attack, antiship, maritime transportation protection, and naval base defense.
Rather than comparisons to Japan which has differing doctrine and requirements, it might be more useful to consider how effective can China's navy be in achieving its intended aims currently and in the future.
For example, in a anti-SLOC scenario, Japan might be very effective with their vessels are but lack the numbers to patrol the entire SLOC so the Chinese navy might be able to interdict Japanese SLOC at various vulnerable points eg off philippines, south china sea etc.