China’s “Sea Power Nation” Strategy

Asia Paper June 1, 2014, pp. 28

China is a large maritime nation. It has a coastline of more than 18,000 km, three million square kilometers of territorial seas, and over 6,500 islands with an area larger than 500 square meters. However, China is not a strong “sea power” nation. Its ocean economic development lags behind that of its land economy and the level of other world sea powers. Moreover, China is facing many daunting challenges and risks related with its harsh strategic situation. As the disputes between China and adjacent countries over the sovereignty of islands, demarcation of sea areas, and exploitation of ocean resources become increasingly strained, it is clear that China needs a new and comprehensive strategy.
The adoption of the strategy of “building China into a sea power nation” was put forward on November 8, 2012, at the 18th Party Congress of the Com-munist Party of China. It foresees China developing its economy in an all-round way—with ocean economic development pursued in tandem as part of China’s broader national development strategy—at the same time as safeguarding its national sovereignty, security, and interests. Under the guidance of the strategy, as is explored in this paper, China will seek to take effective measures such as conflict avoidance, promotion of dialogue, maritime cooperation, and joint ex-ploitation of natural resources.
The sea power strategy is deeply rooted in China’s history as both a once-great maritime country and as a nation subjugated by invasions from the sea. The factors behind the adoption of the strategy are accordingly dealt with at length in this paper. All in all, the strategy seeks to realize the peaceful rise of the Chinese nation in a world where contemporary challenges necessitate a more robust, multi-faceted approach.

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