China Moves Out: Stepping Stones Toward a New Maritime Strategy
NATIONAL DEFENSE UNIV FORT MCNAIR DC INST FOR NATIONAL STRATEGIC STUDIES
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Over the last decade, the People s Liberation Army Navy PLAN has increased the frequency, duration, complexity, and distance from the mainland of its operations. Not only does China maintain a permanent counterpiracy escort flotilla in the Indian Ocean, it also now routinely conducts naval exercises and operations beyond the first island chain throughout the year. This normalization of PLAN operations in the Western Pacific and beyond is an important step toward an emerging new maritime strategy that will incorporate far seas defense. Far seas defense involves extending PLAN combat capabilities into waters farther from China. The concept is consistent with stated PLAN goals and training requirements, but it is not formally incorporated into China s current maritime strategy. Chinese President Hu Jintao s 2004 New Historic Missions charter provided the PLAN with the strategic direction to develop concepts, experience, and tactics germane to establishing far seas defense capabilities. PLAN deployments to and exercises in the near seas since 2004 have been evolutionary steps toward implementing a near seas active defense strategy, but regular deployments deeper into the Western Pacific have also helped the PLAN build the ability to operate in the far seas and begin to operationalize the concept of far seas defense. This monograph begins by examining the geography, history, and strategic focus of near seas active defense, China s current maritime strategy. It illustrates how the New Historic Missions expanded PLAN mission requirements from traditional near seas operating areas to operations in the far seas. The paper provides a strategic framework for a new maritime defense strategy that would incorporate far seas capabilities. It then examines the evolution of PLAN operations and exercises since 2004.
- Logistics, Military Facilities and Supplies
- Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics
- Naval Surface Warfare