The Modernizing PLA Navy

Several Chinese analysts have written that major power status rests on the ability to secure the seas.

China’s Pivot to the Sea: The Modernizing PLA Navy

By Dean Cheng

As China has grown economically, it has become increasingly reliant upon the world’s oceans to sustain that growth. Consequently, it has needed to develop its maritime capabilities in order to defend both the Chinese homeland and its sea lanes of communications. This intensifying focus is exacerbating tensions with neighbors and increasingly challenging the United States.

Since at least 2004, Chinese security thinking has undergone a steady shift toward emphasizing the maritime domain. As its economy has grown, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has become increasingly dependent on the world’s oceans to sustain its economy and people and to move its products to market. Indeed, to maintain and improve what it considers its “comprehensive national power” (zonghe guojia liliang), the PRC clearly needs access to the world’s seas.

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