China's naval strategy

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


On May 26, 2015, the Information Office of the State Council1 released the ninth edition of its White Paper on China’s defense. Aside from noticeable variations in the title, the document included a significant change for observers of the Chinese Navy. While previous editions had insisted on “the requirements of offshore defense strategy” or on the PLA Navy’s responsibility “for safeguarding its maritime security and maintaining its sovereignty over its territorial seas along with its maritime rights and interests”, the 2015 China’s Military Strategy stated that “the PLA Navy (PLAN) will gradually shift its focus from ‘offshore waters defense’ to the combination of ‘offshore waters defense’ with ‘open seas protection,’ and build a combined, multi-functional and efficient marine combat force structure”. The event was not so much that Beijing had altered its position regarding the purposes of its naval forces, it had done so in the past as in the 2013 White Paper which largely read as a variation on Jintao’s new historic missions. What appeared of more significance was that, in Beijing’s eyes, Chinese naval forces had now to graduate from a purely local – or regional – and defensive role and look well beyond their traditional geographic horizon. As clearly put by the White Paper, however, the new oceanic role of the PLA Navy does not come as a replacement for its traditional role in the defense of the “near seas”. Rather, the Chinese naval forces would have, from now, to walk on two legs, each obeying its proper logic.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationNaval powers in the Indian Ocean and the Western Pacific
EditorsHoward M. Hensel, Amit Gupta
Place of PublicationLondon ; New York
PublisherRoutledge, Taylor and Francis Group
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)9780203730874
ISBN (Print)9781138303669
Publication statusPublished - 8 May 2018

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    Lim, Y-H. (2018). China's naval strategy. In H. M. Hensel, & A. Gupta (Eds.), Naval powers in the Indian Ocean and the Western Pacific (pp. 22-35). London ; New York: Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group.