The Peoples’ Liberation Army (Navy) or PLAN (in short) is undergoing a major transition. Theoretically, this transition is guided by a long term strategy laid down by Admiral Liu Huaqing in the early 1980s. In practice, however, it is being guided by a number of combat models driven by perceptions of threat to the country’s security. Among these models, the most important ones are those of sea control in coastal waters and sea denial in maritime regions within the island chain defined by the islands of Japan, the Liuqu Islands, Taiwan and the Philippines. Under these models, the Chinese military has formulated a number of guiding principles for force restructuring and deployment including those of forward defence, layered defence and mobile campaigns. However, there is a disparity between the guiding principles and the PLAN’s real capabilities. As a result, analysts have questioned whether the PLAN has any blue-water strategy at all. This paper is an attempt to explore this and related issues.
Last updated on 01/07/2014