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A nation must think before it acts.
The People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) is rapidly building a blue-water force structure, but little is known about how the service intends to use these new platforms in operations outside of East Asia. This article answers key questions about the future trajectory of the PLAN by examining the service’s strategy of “Far Sea Protection.” It argues that Far Seas Protection is predicated on two desires: (1) to strengthen China’s ability to protect the homeland from attack from the sea and (2) to safeguard the country’s expanding overseas interests. Ultimately, the PLAN intends to do so through the conduct of “far seas mobile operations” with aircraft carrier strike groups, amphibious assault ships, and nuclear-powered submarines. If conflict occurs before these platforms are available to the fleet, the PLAN would conduct asymmetric warfare east of the first island chain, using an approach described as “far seas sabotage guerilla operations.”