Becoming a Great Maritime Power: A Chinese Dream

In November 2012, then President Hu Jintao’s work report to the Chinese Communist Party’s 18th Party Congress was a defining moment in China’s maritime history. Hu declared that China’s objective is to be a strong or great maritime power. This report explores that decision and the implications it will have for the United States. It analyzes Chinese thinking regarding what a maritime power entails, why Beijing wants to become a maritime power, what shortfalls it sees that must be addressed in order to become a maritime power, and finally when it believes it will become a maritime power—as it defines it.

The report digs deeper into the concept of “maritime power” by exploring in detail the component pieces of China’s maritime power—the PLA Navy, the Chinese Coast Guard, the Chinese Maritime Militia, the Chinese merchant marine, its shipbuilding and fishing industries. It examines each in detail, including a discussion of China’s standing today relative to other countries, as well as its ambitions for the future. The maritime power objective is inextricably linked to Chinese sovereignty concerns real and perceived, its maritime rights and interests broadly and elastically defined, its economic development, jobs, improved technical expertise, the centrality of fish to its food security goals, its perception of the attributes a global power should possess, and because Xi Jinping, the President of China and General Secretary of the CCP, said to do it.

Because China’s leadership is not claiming that China is a maritime power today, and has established maritime power as an aspirational goal, the report also addresses what China’s leadership thinks it requires to achieve this goal. In several aspects of maritime power, such as its fishing fleet, merchant marine, and shipbuilding base, our research indicates that China is already world class.

Click here to read the Executive Summary

Click here to read the Report

Conference Papers:

The following papers were prepared and presented at the 2015 CNA conference, China as a "Maritime Power"

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