Ironically, China's current maritime strategy has its roots in the US, the nation that China appears to perceive as its key strategic rival, namely in the "sea power" theory developed by Admiral Alfred Thayer Mahan at the end of the 19th century. In The Influence of Sea Power upon History, published in 1890, Mahan argued that maritime power and economic development were deeply intertwined. Only the ability to protect trade and project power by sea could assure the vitality of this nexus.
These conditions applied to the US of Mahan's time, and they surely apply to China today. China is already the world's third largest trading nation and is rapidly developing its port capacities to manage an ever-increasing volume of trade. Its ship tonnage (excluding fleets that sail under flags of convenience) is the fourth largest in the world. Rapid expansion of ship tonnage is part of China's current Five-Year Plan, and by 2010 its shipbuilding capabilities will likely rival those of Japan and South Korea.
Wednesday, September 14, 2005
Interesting piece by a retired Japanese vice admiral on the rise in China's Sea Power