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Brian WaidelichPatrick deGategnoTimothy DitterThomas Bickford
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This document summarizes key findings from an examination of People’s Liberation Army (PLA) writings on China’s efforts to leverage its civilian shipping fleet in support of military operations. We analyzed PLA reference volumes, technical journals, and media reports published between 2015 and 2020 to explore continuities and changes to the PLA’s approach to civilian ships amid ongoing military reforms.

Civilian ships are an important component of PLA planning for future maritime contingencies.

  • Chinese military authors assert that, despite ongoing modernization and reforms, the PLA Navy still lacks sufficient organic sealift to support largescale maritime operations.
  • These authors claim that mobilized civilian ships can offset this shortfall and support a range of military operations in the run-up to and during an armed conflict.

PLA writings identify a broad range of missions that mobilized Chinese civilian ships could be called on to conduct in support of large-scale PLA maritime operations.

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Distribution Statement A. Approved for public release; distribution unlimited. 11/10/2021


  • Pages: 2
  • Document Number: DSI-2021-U-030614-Final
  • Publication Date: 11/10/2021
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