22 June 2017
Nevertheless, it cannot be said that China currently possesses a global military presence anything like the U.S. Navy. China still does not possess a blue-water navy in the strictest sense.
The PLA Navy has a long way to go before it can call itself a open-ocean power-projection capability. And its footprint will likely remain confined to the western Pacific and parts of the Indian Ocean region. That said, the combination of a more far-ranging Chinese navy, the PLA’s new base in Djibouti, its ability to access a string of ports along the Asian coastline, and a growing Chinese shipping industry underscore not only Chinese ambitions to become global naval power, but also its determination to make it happen.
In conjunction with this event, an article in China Military, the official English-language news website for the PLA, explained that “the PLA’s responsibilities today have gone beyond the scale of guarding the Chinese territories”, requiring it to “protect China’s interests anywhere in the world. Overseas military bases will provide cutting‑edge support for China to guard its growing overseas interests.”
In short, China’s navy is increasingly long-range, blue-water, and expeditionary. It is no longer a matter of if it breaks out of the green waters of the far western Pacific, but when it becomes a full-fledged global force.
… Richard A. Bitzinger is a Senior Fellow and Coordinator of the Military Transformations Program at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.
RSIS / Online
Last updated on 28/06/2017