Maritime geostrategy and the development of the Chinese navy in the early 21st century

This article, published in 2004 in China's most prestigious military journal, China Military Science, merits special attention as a cogent explanation for the recent acceleration in China's naval development that has been manifested by the wide array of sophisticated warships that have emerged from Chinese shipyards since 2000. Xu asserts that contemporary Chinese maritime geostrategy is powerfully informed by a tragic history in which "China's rulers shut the door to the outside world [and] the sea . . . was neglected. . . . [Thus,] the sea became a springboard for invaders." But the geostrategic environment for China's maritime expansion is now favorable, because of a confluence of global trends, including the collapse of the USSR, the 9/11 attacks on the United States, the emergence of a "large Chinese economic bloc" as a global force, and Beijing's newly agile diplomacy. The author reviews a number of aspects of China's maritime development, ranging from expanding commerce to new construction projects in the Indian Ocean. Senior Captain Xu's rationale for an expanded PLA Navy rests on his contention that China's "long period of prosperity [as well as] the Chinese nation's existence, development, and great resurgence [all] increasingly rely on the sea." He also is frank in his concern about "a concentration of strategic power in the Asia-Pacific region on [China's] maritime flank."