China’s New Multi-Faceted Maritime Strategy

Abstract

As trade-driven growth and prosperity redefine both the Chinese economy and the global competitive landscape, U.S. policy makers increasingly must ponder whether the Chinese leadership will seek new options and capabilities to protect its far-reaching oceanic lifelines. As imported oil and raw minerals power the Chinese juggernaut, much of these flows traverse the Strait of Malacca and other littorals where there is little current Chinese capability to project power. In recent years, there is an ongoing debate among Chinese military circles regarding the feasibility of constructing a blue-water fleet that could change the balance of power in the Western Pacific and Indian Oceans. U.S. policy makers watch with increasing unease as a new generation of technically-savvy navy officers forcefully argue for a forward-looking maritime strategic posture that extends beyond the East and South China Seas. In addition, recent Chinese space-based and cyber warfare technology initatives bear watching as Beijing seeks to nullify key U.S. advantages in C4SRI using a high-tech variant of “asymmetric warfare.” Although it is unclear what direction future Chinese maritime strategy and doctrine will take, U.S. policy makers need to remain vigilant about rising Chinese maritime ambitions and capabilities in the future.

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