Examining the Sino-Indian Maritime Competition: Part 3 – China goes to sea

22 January 2014 FDI Team

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Lindsay Hughes
FDI Research Analyst
Indian Ocean Research Programme


  • China’s national strategy is dependent upon its economic growth.
  • It needs to securitise its SLOCs and, especially, its energy imports upon which its entire economy rests.
  • It therefore needs to employ a navy capable of performing this function.
  • China’s rapid naval growth and maritime activities in the last two decades has followed directions not congruent with the protection of its SLOCs
  • This has caused regional and other states to question its motives.



Mahan believed economic growth leads to increased naval prowess, which often leads to a desire for hegemony. He saw this progression as a zero-sum construct, pre-dating Mearsheimer’s theory of offensive realism.1 Mahan’s exposition on seapower was integral to the changing worldview of a rising power, the USA. This correlation was shown in the preceding section. This part of the paper will try to understand why China has turned to the sea, its naval growth, and if its maritime endeavours are defensive or offensive in nature. These findings will, in turn, determine if India should be concerned by China’s activities, especially in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR). This examination begins by studying China’s economic need for the sea, its naval growth and, finally, its maritime objectives. It will apply some of the previously-discussed elements of Seapower to understand these issues. It will examine China’s economic growth in Mahanian terms and determine if its primary desire is to protect its economy by developing its naval prowess or if that development is, simultaneously, the outcome of a desire for regional hegemony.


The Maritime Emphasis of China’s Strategy

It is because of the perception of navies being realist instruments of state power that national strategic culture is closely allied with them. Strategic culture is “an inherited body of political-military concepts based on shared historical and social experience”.2 It shapes a state’s perception of international events, producing considered military actions. Strategic culture is learned by a state’s succeeding generations through texts which embody a national political-military literary tradition which allows leaders to form ideas on how the world works and to develop preferences for types of responses. Thus, in the context of this paper, many Chinese scholars see Chinese strategic culture as unique, possessing an emphasis of ethical and human factors in security issues, as opposed to Western cultures which emphasise military might.3 In this perspective, Chinese strategic culture shows a preference for non-violence. This is disputed by Alastair Iain Johnston who believes China’s strategic culture demonstrates a large degree of realpolitik, permitting its leaders to view war as a central feature of interstate relations.4 Scobell argues that China’s history inclines it towards the use of force. He argues that strategic culture should be studied in relation to China’s security policy for two reasons: first, because Chinese policy is severely influenced by its civilisational history affecting its tendency to use force and, second, because China has a “unique traditional philosophy”.5 In his view, Chinese assumptions about its perennial justness increase its propensity to use force by giving it a “defensive moral rationale for using force, even offensive force”.6

China’s economic growth over the last three decades has been rapid, making it the world’s second largest economy. China has made manufacture and export a fundamental element of its growth strategy. Consequently, its trade has soared from $115 billion in 1990 to $2.9 trillion in 2010. Trade constituted 32 per cent of China’s GDP in 1990 and a 62 per cent in 2007.7 By 2030 China’s share of global sea-borne trade is expected to be twenty-four per cent of an estimated twenty-four billion tonnes, necessitating an enhanced infrastructure.8 Thus, in 2004 Shanghai’s ports ranked second in the world by volume of cargo handled and surpassed Hong Kong in 2007.9 The volume of cargo handled at Shenzen port alone surpassed the combined total from Tokyo, Kobe and Yokohama, Japan’s three busiest ports.10 Reports indicate the Pearl River delta ports in Guangdong province will overtake Hong Kong by 2015 if current progress is maintained.11 The port of Qingdao in Shandong province increased its sea freight handling by thirty per cent in 2002, making it the dominant maritime hub north of the Yangtze River.12

China has become the world’s largest ship-builder, surpassing Japan and South Korea.13 The Cosco Shipyard Group, China’s largest ship-builder, has increased manufacturing capacity in all its shipyards. In Dalian capacity rose by 73 per cent by 200514, including the creation of the world’s largest dry dock, which caters to very large crude carriers (VLCC).15 Also in 2005, citing national security concerns due to a shortage of ships, China’s Department of Transport stated the country needed a fleet of VLCCs capable of transporting more than fifty per cent of its energy products in Chinese hulls,16 leading to the observation that China’s VLCC fleet will more than double by the middle of this decade.17

China’s ship-building efforts also include naval hulls. Its naval modernisation includes the building and creation of platforms, weapons systems, infrastructure and the software to manage these assets.18 According to The Military Balance 2012, the PLAN comprises 876 vessels including 78 principal surface combat ships and 71 submarines.19 Arguably the most impressive element of China’s naval modernisation has been the growth of its submarine fleet. Since the mid-1990s, it has acquired twelve Kilo-class attack submarines from Russia in addition to building its own Song and Yuan classes. Reportedly China inducted twenty three indigenously-built conventional submarines between 1995 and 2007.20

Submarines, however, are not suitable instruments of power projection, so China has also constructed surface strike ships with extended ranges. Over the last decade it has bought or built several destroyers and frigates. These include four RussianSovremenny-class destroyers, five classes of indigenous destroyers and four classes of frigates.21 It has also designed and built large amphibious (landing) ships, supply ships to service its long-distance destroyers, and developed naval command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C4ISR) capabilities.

A Possible Rationale for China’s Naval Emphasis

China’s stated first priority is to “re-integrate” Taiwan, explaining its need for amphibious ships. It is also creating blue-water capacity beyond the “first island chain” – the Kuril Islands, Japan, the Ryukyu Islands, Taiwan, the Philippines and Indonesia. The “second island chain” runs roughly north to south from the Kuril Islands, through Japan, the Bonin, Mariana, and Carolina Islands, and Indonesia. These two lines extend approximately 1,800 nautical miles from China’s east coast. Breaking free of the USA’s domination of the two lines is a key goal of its maritime strategy, explaining why it conducted naval exercises through the first island chain in April 2010.22

This strategy is a direct emulation of the USSR’s strategy of equally-spaced, roughly parallel sea lines of defence (“thresholds”) situated at varying distances from its coasts, each defended by weapons systems to deny the USA sea access and dominance. The first threshold consisted of surveillance ships, aircraft and, satellites, the second land-based, long-range bombers, and the third submarines. Having acquired the submarines, the rationale for China’s emphasis on developing electronic surveillance systems and an indigenous global positioning system is now apparent. Writing of the Chinese Admiral Liu, who is often referred to as the Chinese Mahan, McDevitt states,

When one compares the Soviet strategy of fifteen years ago (in the mid-1980s) to what we believe is China’s first- and second-island strategic construct, the parallels are striking. … When Liu’s thinking is compared to Soviet naval strategy, especially Admiral Gorshkov’s notions of positioning a series of increasingly powerful defensive layers the closer one approached Russia’s coast, the Soviet influence is clear. Arguably, Liu’s strategy could be characterised as Soviet naval strategy with Chinese characteristics.23

Liu proposed a “three island chain” approach in 1988, according to which China would establish a permanent blue water presence in the first “island chain”, along a Japan-Taiwan-Philippines axis including the South China Sea by 2010. By 2025 it would establish a similar presence in the second “island chain”, stretching from the Aleutians through the Mariana Islands, to the east coast of Papua New Guinea, and including the Strait of Malacca. By 2050, its reach would extend to the third “island chain”, starting in the Aleutians and ending in Antarctica, including waters off New Zealand and Australia.24

Effectively, Liu was distilling Mahan’s theories of seapower and adapting those to China’s geographical constraints. Given the fluctuating relationship China had with the USA and USSR, however, Liu could not mention either Mahan or Gorshkov in his writings. More recently, however, Chinese analysts have no inhibitions about citing either. At a 2004 “Symposium on Sea-Lane Security” held in Beijing, Wang Zaibang, Vice President of the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations, quoted directly from Mahan’s works, almost without exception, his most aggressive statements and precepts, equating command of the sea with overbearing power that negates an enemy’s access to the sea.25

Xu Qi, a senior PLAN captain argues that while China’s economic growth demands a turn to the sea, it is threatened by the USA’s naval dominance in the South and East China Seas. He notes that China’s “passage in and out of the open seas is obstructed by two island chains. [China’s] maritime geostrategic posture is in a semi-closed condition”,26 adding, “From a geostrategic perspective, China’s heartland faces the sea, the benefits of economic development are increasingly dependent on the sea, [and] security comes from the sea”.27 The solution, he argues, is to develop naval power. He calls for an “unceasing move towards a ‘blue-water navy’ [and] expand the scope of maritime security defence”.28 A blue-water navy would need to “cast the field of vision of its strategic defence to the open ocean [and to] develop attack capabilities for battle operations [along] exterior lines”.29 This argument could well have been taken from Mahan’s writings.

Similarly, Professor Ni Lexiong of the Research Institute of War and Culture reminds China of its humiliation by Japan in 1894 – 1895 when the Japanese fleet crushed its navy. Asserting that “the key to winning that war was to gain command of the sea”, he writes that Mahan,

… believed that whoever could control the sea would win the war and change history; that command of the sea is achieved through decisive naval battles on the seas; that the outcome of decisive naval battles is determined by the strength of fire power on each side of the engagement.30

The foregoing examples make the point that China’s naval strategists are becoming increasingly assertive and Mahanian in their outlook. If is therefore probable that China will seek to maintain the security of its commercial SLOCs. In other words, if Chinese strategists apply Mahanian theory to the Yellow, East China and South China Seas, they must seek to assert command of these seas, which parallels Mahan’s writings on USA’s need to dominate the Caribbean. Using Mahanian theory, China must guarantee sea-going communications along its coast; these could be threatened by, say, US forces situated in Okinawa which could easily be positioned at the junction of the East China and South China Seas.

Since China will not willingly depend on a security umbrella provided by another state, it must securitise the SLOCs which carry its trade and commerce, which is best done by claiming the South China Sea as its own body of water. It claimed virtually the entire sea in 1992, putting this position into domestic law.31 China has made clear its willingness to use force to back up its maritime claims. In 1976 its naval forces took the Paracel Islands from Vietnam, and in 1988 the PLAN fought a Vietnamese flotilla to occupy part of the Spratly Islands and install anti-ship missiles on Woody Island. In 1995, after the USA withdrew from the Philippines, China seized Mischief Reef from within the Philippines’s two hundred nautical mile exclusive economic zone and fortified it in 1998.32

In this, China has once again conformed to Mahanian theory: establishing forward bases, extending its outward defence perimeter, strengthening its SLOCs and seeking control over the approaches to the Strait of Malacca, itself the conduit for a full sixth of world trade and the SLOC for vital energy imports for China, Japan and other East Asian countries.33 Thus, while some analysts might emphasise the potential under-sea hydro-carbon deposits of the East and South China Seas, these seas are strategically important to China because of their geography too. China views them as one continuous ocean. In order to command it, China’s navy must be able to operate freely within it. Thus China claims them and their resources.

This thinking was first presented by China in its Defence White Paper, China’s National Defence in 2004. It provides an appraisal of China’s strategic environment and the strategies it requires to flourish. It was more or less re-stated in the 2006 paper, China’s National Defence in 2006 and again in The Diversified Employment of China’s Armed Forces, published in April 2013.34 The 2006 paper notes that “Security issues relating to energy, resources, finance, information and international shipping routes are mounting”,35 requiring the military to diversify its roles and missions, a concept elaborated upon in the 2013 paper.

This need to defend its international shipping routes requires China to focus on the regional environment, in the first instance, since its SLOCs pass relatively close to Vietnam, Japan, Taiwan, the Philippines and the Strait of Malacca. To China, Taiwan represents the most tangible and immediate impediment to the securitisation of its SLOCs and any maritime ambitions it may have in the region and further afield. Its geographic position allows it to thwart virtually all power projection from the mainland. As the map above demonstrates, the island chain of which Taiwan is a major part stretches from Japan to the Philippine archipelago, virtually encompassing the Chinese mainland which arcs into the Pacific Ocean. Taiwan lies off-shore in the centre of the Chinese coastline; it has, therefore, the potential to block all of China’s access to the sea. In naval terms, Taiwan can potentially block the Chinese north and south fleets from amassing. It is also the most effective barrier to Chinese naval operations beyond the first island chain. China learned the value of Taiwan in the Korean War of 1950 – 1953. After US President Truman ordered the Seventh Fleet to the Taiwan Strait, General Douglas MacArthur stated that Formosa (Taiwan) was “an unsinkable aircraft carrier”, able to project American power along China’s coast in a containment strategy.36 The island’s position along with its ties to the USA have caused resentment in Beijing since the CCP cannot achieve its goal of national unification and also poses a major security threat to China’s development. The Chinese analyst Lin Zhibo sums the situation up:

“Militarily, Taiwan is a potential which the USA could use in the western Pacific. The use of Taiwan could enable effective control of sea lines of communication between Northeast Asia and Southeast Asia and the Middle East.37 … Thus the USA sees Taiwan as “an unsinkable aircraft carrier”, giving it a maximum degree of control over China’s East and South Sea fleets.38

Lin probably had the implied threat posed by two US carrier groups deliberately positioned in the vicinity during the Taiwan Crisis of 1996 in mind when he wrote that.

To overcome this handicap, China must possess a navy capable of circling the island at will. This could explain its massive ship-building program. On the other hand, “unifying” Taiwan with the mainland will be more to Beijing’s liking since the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) will have taken another step towards its stated goal of “unifying” China. It could be argued that nationalism presses the CCP to integrate Taiwan with the mainland. While true to a degree, it is equally arguable that it is Mahan’s theory which drives China’s desire to achieve this objective, nationalism being the vehicle used in the process.39

Like Taiwan, Japan poses another maritime security risk to China. The lay of the Japanese home (four main) islands, the Ryukyus and the outlying islands and atolls all constitute an impediment to any Chinese maritime power-projection aspirations. The length of the Japanese archipelago, when combined with its situation close to the East Asian land mass, virtually guarantee tensions with a maritime-constrained China. The Japanese home islands stretch approximately 1,200 km, forming a crescent which shadows China’s eastern seaboard. It thus poses an obstacle to any projected Chinese naval power from most Chinese ports north of Xiamen.40 Furthermore, the Ryukyu Islands, according to Wu Qingli, a Chinese analyst, “plays a major role in effectively controlling the Asia-Pacific coast”.41 In fact, any Chinese notions of a freely-mobile navy were undone when in 2004 a Chinese Han class, nuclear-powered attack submarine, which had left Qingdao and circumnavigated Guam, moved into Japan’s maritime territory between the Miyako and Ishigaki Islands. According to Taiwanese sources, the Japan Maritime Self-Defence Force had tracked the submarine from the moment it left Chinese territory.42

More recently, there has been increased tension over the ownership of the Senkaku / Diaoyu Islands, which are claimed by both China and Japan. China, as it does with Taiwan, places the dispute in the realms of nationalism, sovereignty, and its long-term access to the resources in the surrounding sea-bed. While this may be true, a regional map demonstrates that control of these islands allows China the opportunity to outflank Taiwan, which could also explain Taiwan’s claim to the islands.

Tokyo has well-developed maritime defence strategic thinking. It needs to protect 27,000 kilometres of coastline with little strategic depth (Honshu Island, for instance, stretches two hundred and fifty kilometres from West to East at its widest). Japanese defence planners, therefore, have always considered forward defence at sea, necessitating an advanced navy.43 Combined with this, its latent major-power potential, its huge maritime defence area in comparison to its much lesser land area, and its recent gradual departure from its post-World War Two pacifism all conjoin to make Japan a formidable adversary to China.44

It is reasonable to assume that Beijing will turn its attention to the Indian Ocean once it has secured the East China, Yellow and South China Seas to its satisfaction. That is of little surprise. Since it is energy products which fuel China’s economy, and since China is a net importer of energy, it must necessarily secure its energy-focussed SLOCs. The question, however, must be asked: are China’s efforts in the Indian Ocean an attempt to securitise its energy SLOCs or aimed towards something else? This question will be answered by examining China’s activities in the region.

China’s energy consumption has more than doubled over the last two decades. Without domestically-available energy products, its dependence on imports has blown out.45 In 2003 China became the world’s second-largest consumer of petroleum, surpassing Japan. Also in 2003, imported energy products accounted for more than 30 per cent of total Chinese oil consumption. In 2013 China became the world’s largest global energy consumer according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).46 US analysts predict that oil demand in China will at least double over the next two decades,47 and foreign supplies will account for over 75 per cent of that demand.48 The US National Intelligence Council estimates that oil consumption needs to grow by 150 per cent by 2020 to sustain China’s current growth rate. Essentially, its demand for oil will be almost equal to the demand of the USA at the time.49

The demand for oil pressured Beijing to secure an uninterrupted flow. China imports the bulk of its oil from the Persian Gulf and the Horn of Africa, forcing it to look carefully at its energy SLOCs, especially as they converge at the Strait of Malacca, through which over 75 per cent passes.50 Chinese analyst Shi Hongtao states,

It is no exaggeration to say that whoever controls the Strait of Malacca will also have a stranglehold on the energy route of China. Excessive reliance on this strait has brought an important potential threat to China’s energy security.51

This thought is echoed by Zhang Yuncheng52 and Zhu Fenggang.53 Other Chinese strategists see the USA’s recent pivot to Asia as an attempt to “encircle China”54 and “blockade the Asian mainland (China in particular)”55 from Guam and Diego Garcia.

The USA, however, is not the sole cause for China’s concerns in the Indian Ocean. It sees India as a challenge to its interests in the IOR. The importance China gives to India is gauged by the attention it pays to India’s rising maritime power.56 Some Chinese strategists allege India is the dominant power in the IOR and, given its great-power aspirations and potential, could become China’s equal,57 countering its attempts to exert control in the IOR. Added to this, India’s energy requirements will likely create a zero-sum approach at sea.58 Consequently, they see India’s maritime ambitions in geopolitical terms. Zhang Ming posits, “The Indian subcontinent is akin to a massive triangle reaching into the heart of the Indian Ocean, benefitting any from there who seek to control the Indian Ocean”.59 Xie Zhijun, another Chinese commentator alleges Mahan declared,

Whoever controls the Indian Ocean will dominate India and the coastal states of the Indian Ocean as well as control the massive area between the Mediterranean and the Pacific Ocean.60

Quoting Jawaharlal Nehru and the Indian strategist, K M Panikkar, Zhao Bole, Professor of South Asian Studies at Sichuan University, argues that India’s rise is due to four main geopolitical factors. First, India and its surrounding areas possess many natural resources; secondly, it is the most powerful state in the IOR; third, the physical distance between New Delhi and Washington gives India space to manoeuvre despite the primacy of the US navy in the Indian Ocean; and fourth, India borders economically dynamic regions such as the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) and China itself.61 He claims India’s non-aligned stance during the Cold War camouflaged its concern with maritime issues.

After the Cold War, however, India has taken a close interest in South-East Asia via its “Look East” policy. Zhao Gancheng argues the policy has major geo-strategic implications for India’s great-power aspirations. Acknowledging its strategic motivations, he states India’s increased interaction with ASEAN will tempt the USA to view it as a potential balance to China.62 Hou Songlin, a Chinese scholar, argues that the policy has maritime implications for ASEAN states. He alleges its second stage will expand into Indo-ASEAN cooperation on counter-terrorism, trans-national crime fighting and maritime security which “represent an Indian grand strategy to control the Indian Ocean, particularly the Malacca Strait”.63

China enacted a considerable response. A 2005 report by US defence contractor Booz, Allen and Hamilton alleged China had a long-term geo-strategy to construct military bases and facilities in areas proximate to its trade and energy SLOCs.64 Called its “String of Pearls”, the document alleged China was creating bases in the South China Sea, Thailand, Cambodia, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Africa, the Suez Canal, Venezuela and the Panama Canal – all sources of China’s energy imports or close to its trade and energy SLOCs. In the IOR they stretch from Hainan Island in China’s south to the Horn of Africa and include Woody Island in the South China Sea, Sittwe in Myanmar, Chittagong in Bangladesh, Hambantota in Sri Lanka, Harao in the Maldives, Gwadar in Pakistan, and points in Kenya and Sudan. The strategy included a proposal to create a canal through Thailand’s Kra Isthmus so as to bypass the Malacca Strait.65 One report indicates China has concluded a secret treaty to construct a submarine base in the Maldives.66

While each “pearl” provides China fast access to its SLOCs, they provide two other functions: the ability to watch over and balance India’s ports and naval bases in the IOR, and to, potentially, encircle India. It has established at least four electronic listening ports in the Andaman Sea at Manaung, Hainggyi, Zadetkyi Island, and the Cocos Islands (close to India’s naval base in the Andaman Islands) in Myanmar.67 China has also constructed an integrated transportation system linking its Yunan Province with Kyaukpyu Port at Sittwe in Myanmar, passing close to the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh, which it claims as South Tibet.

In March 2001, Pakistan announced China would help it to create a new port at Gwadar. Though discussed earlier, planning was hastened after the 1999 Kargil Crisis between India and Pakistan. During the conflict, the Indian Navy blockaded Karachi harbour, which carries over ninety per cent of Pakistan’s trade and the greater part of its oil imports, exposing a critical Pakistani vulnerability.68 The Pakistani government saw Gwadar as a means to empower the Pakistani Navy to challenge India’s.69 The port was deepened from eleven to nineteen metres, enabling it to host aircraft carriers and nuclear submarines.70 Gwadar is strategically significant for two major reasons. First, it reduces India’s ability to blockade Pakistan during a war. Second, it turns Pakistan into a major route for trade and transport with the Central Asian Republics. From the Chinese perspective, a stronger Pakistan is better able to balance India, an essential part of China’s security.71

Thus, Garver and other analysts of Sino-Indian relations argue that both countries are engaged in an offensive-realist struggle for power balancing,72 resulting in a situation Jervis described as a “security dilemma”.73 They link China’s growing energy interests to its security policies, characterising it as a “revisionist” (i.e. not a status quo) power.74 China characterises its increasing competitiveness, based upon its rising economy and military might, in zero-sum terms, a trend they see as dangerous as it could lead to regional conflict.

There are a number of compelling reasons that drive China to modernise its navy. Its energy imports play too important a part in its economic development to risk its safety. China must be able to protect its trade and energy SLOCs, and it has taken the necessary steps to do so. The issue, however, lies in their nature.

Its “island chain” strategy demonstrates China’s use of its circumstances, its need to securitise its SLOCs, to achieve ends beyond its stated need. The attention and effort given to “integrating” Taiwan with the mainland and the claims made regarding the sovereignty of the Diaoyu / Senkaku Islands – and the South China Sea itself – negate security in the East China and South China Seas.75 This is an expansionist strategy, not a defensive one. To this extent, China displays the strategies enunciated by Mahan and falls in line with Mearsheimer’s theory of offensive realism.

Similarly, China’s strategy in the IOR shows Mahanian characteristics. Here, even more than in the western Pacific Ocean, China demonstrates that its strategy could be put to dual use. While it is in place ostensibly to protect its SLOCs, its “String of Pearls”, for instance, could be used to contain India, which fact has not escaped the attention of Indian strategists. This examination, then, provides grounds to assume that China’s strategy is offensive in nature. In adhering to Mahan’s theory of seapower, China aspires to regional hegemonism and sees the modernisation and enhanced capability of its navy as a key stratagem in achieving that goal.


  1. Mahan, Alfred T., The Influence of Sea Power Upon History 1660 – 1783, Dover Publications, New York, 1988; also Sumida, Jon Tetsuro, Inventing Grand Strategy and Teaching Command: The Classic Works of Alfred Thayer Mahan Reconsidered, The Woodrow Wilson Press Centre, Washington DC, 1997
  2. Gilboy, George J., and Heginbotham, Eric, Chinese and Indian Strategic Behaviour: Growing Power and Alarm, Cambridge University Press, New York, 2012, p. 25
  3. See, for instance, Zhang Junbo and Yao Yunzhu, “Traditional Chinese Military Thinking: A Comparative Perspective”, in Zhao Suishang, (ed.), Chinese Foreign Policy: Pragmatism and Strategic Behaviour, M.E. Sharpe, Armonk, 2004, pp. 128 – 139
  4. Johnston, Alastair Iain, Cultural Realism: Strategic Culture and Grand Strategy in Chinese History, Princeton University Press, Princeton, 2007, pp. 30; 107-108; 249
  5. Scobell, Andrew, “Cult of Defense” in Chambers, Michael R., (ed.), South Asia in 2020: Future Strategic Balances and Alliances, US Army War College, Carlisle, 2002, pp. 329 – 384
  6. Scobell, Andrew, China’s Use of Military Force: Beyond the Great Wall and the Long March, Cambridge University Press, New York, 2003, p. 15
  7. Figures acquired from the World Bank, accessible online at https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/TG.VAL.TOTL.GD.ZS
  8. Sheridan, Rob, “Seaborne Trade Seen More Than Doubling by 2030 on China’s Growth”, Bloomberg, 08.04.2013; available online at https://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-04-08/seaborne-trade-seen-more-than-doubling-by-2030-on-china-s-growth.html
  9. Journal of Commerce Online, “Shanghai Volume to Lead World Ports”, 9 December 2005; accessible online at https://joc.newspaperdirect.com/epaper/viewer.aspx
  10. Sanchanta, Mariko, ”Japanese Government to Cut Main Port Costs by up to 40%”, Financial Times, 7 January 2005, p. 3
  11. Nihalani, Shobha, “South China Ports Set to Depose Hong Kong”, South China Morning Post, 11 August 2012, p.6; accessible online at https://www.scmp.com/article/561472/south-china-ports-set-depose-hk; see also Smith, Patrick, “High Costs are Driving Business from Hong Kong Port”, New York Times, 5 July, 2006, p. 5
  12. Chiu, Annette, “Shandong’s Rise Takes Qingdong in Tow”, South China Morning Post, Date? January 10, 2003, p. 5; accessible online at https://www.accessmylibrary.com/coms2/summary_0286-22475757_ITM
  13. See, for instance, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), “Review of Maritime Transport 2012; accessible online at https://unctad.org/en/PublicationsLibrary/rmt2012_en.pdf
  14. Urquhart, Donald, “China’s Cosco Shipyard in US$113 Million Expansion Drive”, Business Times (Singapore), 1 August 2006
  15. Raj, Conrad, “Cosco Shipyards Wow the World”, Business Times (Singapore), 23 May 2006
  16. O’Neill, Mark, “Call for Supertanker Fleet”, South China Morning Post, 14 November 2005, p. 2
  17. Anderlini, Jamil, “China Poised to become World’s Top Shipbuilder”, South China Morning Post, 21 July 2006, p. 3
  18. For an elaboration of this, see particularly Till, Geoffrey, Asia’s Naval Expansion: An Arms Race in the Making?, Routledge, Oxon, 2012, pp. 86 – 91; also Athwal, Amardeep, China-India Relations: Contemporary Dynamics, Routledge, Oxon, 2008, pp. 38 – 42; Holmes, James R., and Yoshihara, Toshi, Chinese Naval Strategy in the 21st Century: The Turn to Mahan, Routledge, Oxon, 2008; Cole, Bernard D., The Great Wall at Sea: China’s Navy Enters the Twenty-First Century, Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, MD., 2010
  19. International Institute for Strategic Studies, The Military Balance 2012, available online at https://www.iiss.org/en/publications/military%20balance/issues/the-military-balance-2012-77da
  20. Lague, David, “Chinese Submarine Fleet is Growing, Analysts say”, New York Times, February 25, 2008; available online at https://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/25/world/asia/25submarine.html?_r=0
  21. O’Rourke, Ronald, China Naval Modernisation: Implications for US Navy Capabilities – Background and Issues for Congress, Congressional Research Service, Washington, DC, 3 February 2011. Some have stealth capability, vertical-launch missile systems, phased array radars, and anti-ship missiles.
  22. Hsiao, L.C. Russell, “PLAN East Sea Fleet Moves Beyond First Island Chain”, China Brief, Vol. 10, No. 9, April 29, 2010, pp. 1 – 2
  23. McDevitt, Michael, “Where is China’s Navy Headed?”, US Naval Institute Proceedings 127, No. 5, (May 2001), pp. 58 – 62
  24. McDevitt, Michael, “The PLA Navy’s Anti-access Role in a Taiwan Contingency”, in Saunders, Phillip C., Yung, Christopher, Swaine, Michael, and Yang, Andrew Nien-Dzu, (eds.), The Chinese Navy: Expanding Capabilities, Evolving Roles, National Defense University, Washington D.C., 2011, pp. 191 – 214; accessible online at https://www.ndu.edu/press/lib/pdf/books/chinese-navy.pdf
  25. Cited by Holmes, James R., and Yoshihara, Toshi, Chinese Naval Strategy in the 21st Century: The Turn to Mahan, Routledge, Oxon, 2008, p. 39
  26. Xu Qi, “Maritime Geostrategy and the Development of the Chinese Navy in the Early Twenty-First century”, trans. Erickson, Andrew S., and Goldstein, Lyle J., Naval War College Review, Vol. 59, No. 4, Autumn 2006, p. 58
  27. Xu Qi, op. cit., pp. 56 – 57
  28. Xu Qi, op. cit., p. 60
  29. Xu Qi, op. cit., p. 61
  30. Ni, Lexiong, “Sea Power and China’s Development”, Liberation Daily, 17 April 2005, p.5; accessible online at www.uscc.gov/researchpapers/translated_articles/2005/05_07_18_Sea_Power_and_Chinas_Development.pdf
  31. Cole, Bernard D., “Oil for the Lamps of China – Beijing’s 21st Century Search for Energy”, McNair Papers, October 2003, p. 21, accessible at https://www.dtic.mil/cgi-bin/GetTRDoc?AD=ADA421818. China staked its claim through its Law on the Territorial Sea and the Contiguous Zone.
  32. Chellaney, Brahma, “How China Fights: Lessons From the 1962 Sino-Indian War”, The Daily Beast, 29.10.2012; available online at https://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2012/10/28/how-china-fights-lessons-from-the-1962-sino-indian-war.html
  33. The issue of China’s energy imports will be dealt with later in this section.
  34. People’s Republic of China, “The Diversified Employment of China’s Armed Forces”, accessible online at https://eng.chinamil.com.cn/special-reports/node_59506.htm; for an analysis of the 2004 paper see Bhattacharya, Abanti, “China’s Foreign Policy Challenges and Evolving Strategy”, Strategic Analysis, Vol. 30, No. 1, (Jan-Mar 2006), pp. 182 – 204
  35. People’s Republic of China; accessible online at https://english.people.com.cn/whitepaper/defense2006/defense2006.html, p.2
  36. Whitney, Courtney, MacArthur: His Rendezvous with History, Knopf, New York, 1956, pp. 378 – 379
  37. This implies a security threat to China’s energy imports, upon which the entire Chinese economy rests
  38. Lin Zhibo, “New Academic Analysis: Will There Be an All-out US intervention in a Taiwan Strait War?”, People’s Daily Online, 20 July 2004; cited in Holmes, James R., and Yoshihara, Toshi, Chinese Naval Strategy in the 21st Century: The Turn to Mahan, Routledge, Oxon, 2008, p. 55; also Wachman, Alan M., Why Taiwan? Geostrategic Rationales for China’s Territorial Integrity, Stanford University Press, Stanford, California, 2007, p. 33
  39. More recently, China has announced its navy has sailed around Japan. This time, though, it sought to demonstrate its naval prowess as well as pressure Japan over the Senkaku/Diaoyu Island issue. See, among others, https://usa.chinadaily.com.cn/china/2013-08/02/content_16863855.htm, https://www.china.org.cn/china/2013-07/22/content_29493018.htm, https://japandailypress.com/china-praises-its-navy-for-successfully-circumnavigating-around-japans-islands-0233296/
  40. Woolley, Peter J., Japan’s Navy: Politics and Paradox 1971 – 2000, Lynn Reiner Publishers, Boulder, Colorado, 2000, p. 8
  41. Wu Qingli, “At Whom is the US Asia-Pacific Strategic Spearhead Pointed?”, Liaowang (Outlook) 21, 21 May 2001, pp. 60 – 61; see also Valencia, Mark J., and Yoshihisa, Amae, “Regime Building in the East China Sea”, Ocean Development & International Law, vol. 34, 2003, pp. 189–208, accessible online at https://community.middlebury.edu/~scs/docs/valencia%20and%20amae-east%20china%20sea%20regime%20building.pdf
  42. Chen, Melody, “Japan and US ‘Dissuade’ China”, Taipei Times, 23 March 2004, p. 2; accessible online at https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/taiwan/archives/2005/03/23/2003247418
  43. Kim, Duk-ki, Naval Strategy in North-East Asia: Geo-Strategic Goals, Policies and Prospects, Frank Cass, London, 2003, pp. 168 – 169
  44. One instance of this departure is highlighted in Japan’s decision to sell ShinMayya US-2 STOL seaplanes to India; see Lal, Neeta, “Delhi’s Tango With Tokyo”, Asian Sentinel, 29 May 2013, accessible online at https://www.asiasentinel.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=5454&Itemid=174
  45. Asia Pacific Research Centre, Energy in China: Transportation, Electric Power and Fuel Markets, Asian Pacific Research Centre, Tokyo, 2004, p. 5
  46. U.S. Energy Information Administration, “China”, p. 1; accessible online at https://www.eia.gov/countries/analysisbriefs/China/china.pdf
  47. Ibid.
  48. Caruso, Guy, Testimony to US-China Economic and Security Review Commission, 108th Congress, October 30, 2003, p. 8; also accessible online at https://www.eia.gov/neic/speeches/caruso_china/chinatest103003.htm
  49. US National Intelligence Council, Report of the national Intelligence Council’s 2020 Project: Mapping the Global Future, Government Printing Office, Washington, December 2004, pp. 50, 62; accessible online at https://www.isn.ethz.ch/isn/Digital-Library/Publications/Detail/?id=10472&lng=en
  50. Holmes, James R., and Yoshihara, Toshi, “China’s Naval Ambitions in the Indian Ocean”, in Collins, Gabriel, Erickson, Andrew, Goldstein, Lyle, and Murray, William, China’s Energy Strategy: The Impact of Beijing’s Maritime Policies, Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, 2008, p. 119
  51. Shi Hongtao, “China’s ‘Malacca Straits’”, Qingnian Bao, 15.05.2004, Foreign Broadcast Information Service (FBIS); see also Pathak, Vidhan, “China’s Evolving Role in the Western Indian Ocean: Implications for India”, Journal of The Centre for Reforms, Development and Justice, vol. 1, no. 2, New Delhi, 2013, pp. 34 – 59; accessible online at https://crdj.in/files/discussant-april13.pdf
  52. Zhang Yuncheng, “The Malacca Strait and World Oil Security”, Huanqiu Shibao (Global Times), 5.12.2003; this is also cited by Christoffersen, Gaye, “The Dilemmas of China’s Energy Governance: Recentralization and Regional Cooperation”, The China and Eurasia Forum Quarterly, vol. 3, no. 2, (November 2005), pp. 55 – 79; online at https://www.silkroadstudies.org/new/docs/CEF/Quarterly/November_2005/Gaye_Christoffersen.pdf
  53. Zhu Fengang, “The Impact of the Maritime Strategies of Asia-Pacific Nations”, Dangdai Yatai 5, 2006, p. 36
  54. Qing Tong, “2002: Focus on Guam”, Kuang Chiao Ching, 16.10.2002; FBIS
  55. Wang Jisi, Ni Feng, Zhang Liping, “Impact of US Global Strategic Adjustment on China”, Zhongguo Shehui Kexueyuan Yuanbao, 7.1.2004, FBIS
  56. Liu Qian, “China’s India Studies”, Contemporary International Relations, Vol. 18, No. 3, (May / June 2008), pp. 74 – 85
  57. Walgreen, David, “China in the Indian Ocean Region: Lessons in PRC Grand Strategy”, Comparative Strategy Vol. 25 (2006), p. 59
  58. Newmyer, Jacqueline, “Chinese Energy Security and the Chinese Regime”, in Moran, Daniel, and Russell, James A., Energy Security and Global Politics: The militarisation of resource management, Routledge, Oxon, 2009, pp. 188 – 210
  59. Zhang Ming, “The Malacca Dilemma and the Chinese Navy’s Strategic Choices”, Modern Ships, No. 274, October 2006, p. 23
  60. Xie Zhijun, “Asian Seas in the 21st Century: With So Many Rival Navies, How Will China Manage?”, Military Digest, February 1, 2001, p. 21. This statement, which is also “quoted” by Indian sources, is not to be found in any of Mahan’s works
  61. Zhao Bole, “The Geopolitical Roots of India’s Rise”, Contemporary Asia-Pacific, Vol. 146, No. 2, February 2007, pp. 12 – 13
  62. Zhao Gancheng, “The Development and Implications of India’s ‘Look East’ Policy”, Contemporary Asia-Pacific, Vol. 146, No. 8, August 2007, p. 13
  63. Hou Songlin, “India’s ‘Look East Policy’ and the Development of Indian-ASEAN Ties”, Dangdai Yatai, Vol. 5, 2006, p. 42; cited in Holmes, James R., Winner, Andrew C., and Yoshihara, Toshi, Indian Naval Strategy in the Twenty-first Century, Routledge, Oxon, 2009, p. 133
  64. Khurana, Gurpreet S., “China’s ‘String of Pearls’ in the Indian Ocean and Its Security Implications”, Strategic Analysis, Vol. 32, Issue 1, 2008, pp. 1 – 39; accessible online at https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/09700160801886314
  65. Berlin, Donald L., “The Great base Race in the Indian Ocean Littoral: Conflict Prevention or Stimulation?”, Contemporary South Asia, Vol. 13, No. 3, 2004, pp. 239 – 255; see also Berlin, Donald L., “India in the Indian Ocean”, Naval War College Review, Vol. 59, No.2, Spring 2006, pp. 58 – 89
  66. Athwal, Amardeep, China-India Relations: Contemporary Dynamics, Routledge, Oxon, 2008, p. 45
  67. Sharma, Harvir, “China’s Interests in Indian Ocean Rim Countries and India’s Maritime Security”, India Quarterly, Vol. 58, No. 4, 2001, pp. 67 – 88
  68. Garver, John, Protracted Contest: Sino-Indian Rivalry in the Twentieth Century, Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 2001, p. 17
  69. Niazi, Tarique, “Gwadar: China’s Naval Outpost on the Indian Ocean”, China Brief, Vol. 5, Issue 4, 28 February, 2005; accessible online at https://www.jamestown.org/single/?tx_ttnews[tt_news]=3718
  70. Kondapally, Srikanth, “China’s ‘String of Pearls’ Strategy: Creeping Entry into the Indian Ocean”, Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, New Delhi, 2005, p. 3; cited in Athwal, Amardeep, China-India Relations: Contemporary Dynamics, Routledge, Oxon, 2008, p. 48
  71. Garver, John, “China’s Influence in Central and South Asia: Is it Increasing?”, in Shambaugh, David, (ed.), Power Shift: China and Asia’s New Dynamics, University of California Press, Berkeley, California, 2005, pp. 205 – 228
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  73. Jervis, Robert, “Cooperation Under the Security Dilemma”, World Politics, Vol. 30, 1978, pp. 167 – 214
  74. Salameh, Mamdouh G., “China, Oil and the Risk of Regional Conflict”, Survival, Vol. 37, No. 4, 1995 – 1996, pp. 133 – 146; Calder, Kent, “Asia’s Empty Gas Tank”, Foreign Affairs, Vol. 75, No. 2; 1996, pp. 55 – 69; Rachman, G., “Containing China”, Washington Quarterly, Vol. 19. No. 1, 1996, pp. 129 – 140
  75. See for example Perlez, Jane, “Hagel, in Remarks Directed at China, Speaks of Cyberattack Threat”, The New York Times, June 1, 2013, accessible online at https://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/02/world/asia/hagel-reassures-asian-allies.html?_r=1&; also Chang, Gordon G., “China And The Biggest Territory Grab Since World War II”, Forbes Magazine, accessible online at https://www.forbes.com/sites/gordonchang/2013/06/02/china-and-the-biggest-territory-grab-since-world-war-ii/







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