Thursday, May 18, 2017

BEYOND THE SAN HAI The Challenge of China’s Blue-Water Navy Dr. Patrick M. Cronin, Dr. Mira Rapp-Hooper, Harry Krejsa, Alex Sullivan, and Rush Doshi MAY 2017

BEYOND THE SAN HAI The Challenge of China’s Blue-Water Navy
Dr. Patrick M. Cronin, Dr. Mira Rapp-Hooper, Harry Krejsa, Alex Sullivan, and Rush Doshi
MAY 2017
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Celebrating 10 Years
About the Authors
DR. PATRICK M. CRONIN is a Senior Advisor and Senior Director of the Asia- Paci c Security Program at the Center
for a New American Security (CNAS). Previously, he was the Senior Director of the Institute for National Strategic Studies (INSS) at the National Defense University,

where he simultaneously oversaw the Center for the Study of Chinese Military A airs. Dr. Cronin has a rich and diverse background in both Asia-Paci c security and U.S. defense, foreign, and development policy. Prior to leading INSS, Dr. Cronin served as the Director of Studies at the London- based International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS). Before joining IISS, Dr. Cronin was Senior Vice President and Director of Research at the Center for Strategic
and International Studies (CSIS). In 2001, Dr. Cronin was con rmed as Assistant Administrator for Policy and Program Coordination, the third-ranking position at the U.S. Agency for International Development, where he led the interagency task force that helped design the Millennium Challenge Corporation.
DR. MIRA RAPP-HOOPER is a Senior Fellow with the Asia-Paci c Security Program at CNAS. Her expertise includes Asia security issues, deterrence, nuclear strategy and policy, and alliance politics. She previously was a Fellow with the Asia Program at CSIS and Director of the CSIS
Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative. She also has been a Stanton Nuclear Security Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. Dr. Rapp-Hooper is a Foreign Policy Interrupted Fellow and David Rockefeller Fellow of the Trilateral Commission.
HARRY KREJSA is the Research Associate for the Asia-Paci c Security Program at CNAS. Mr. Krejsa formerly worked as a policy analyst for the Congressional Joint Economic Committee and as a researcher with the Center for the Study of Chinese Military A airs at National Defense
University. He also has led a eld analysis on political transition in Myanmar, piloted anti-terror training programs for Southeast Asia, and served as a Fulbright Fellow in Taiwan.
ALEX SULLIVAN is an Adjunct Fellow in the Asia-Paci c Security Program at CNAS, where he focuses on U.S.-China relations, maritime security, regional military modernization, and the role of energy in geopolitics. Mr. Sullivan also is a doctoral student in the Department of Government
at Georgetown University. His research focuses on Chinese foreign policy, international negotiation and bargaining, international security, and the political economy of war.
Cover Photo
RUSH DOSHI is a Raymond Vernon Fellow in Harvard’s PhD program in government. His doctoral work focuses on explaining variation in Chinese post–Cold War Grand Strategy.
Mr. Doshi’s research interests include Chinese and Indian foreign policy (he is pro cient in Mandarin and Hindi), and his work has been
printed in The Wall Street Journal and other publications. Mr. Doshi previously was an analyst at Long Term Strategy Group, where he focused on Asia-Paci c security issues; prior to that, he researched international economic issues as an analyst at Rock Creek Global Advisors, consulted for the O ce of the Secretary of Defense, participated in studies at the Naval War College, and was an Arthur Liman Fellow at the Department
of State. Mr. Doshi was a Fulbright Fellow in China for a year, where he researched Sino-Indian relations. He graduated from Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School with a minor in East Asian studies.

The authors are indebted to Hannah Suh and Anthony Cho for their critical research support as well as to CDR Thomas Shugart, USN for his excellent analytical contribution. The authors also express their gratitude to Shawn Brimley for his valuable feedback and Melody Cook and Maura McCarthy for their design and editing of this report.
The authors would also like to thank Yoji Koda, Kuni Miyake, and Yusuke Saito for their tremendous contributions to this project. Yoji Koda authored a working paper on “China’s Bluewater Navy Strategy and its Implications;” Kuni Miyake authored a working paper on “China as a Middle East Power: The Pros and Cons of a More Assertive and Capable China in the Gulf and Beyond;” and Yusuke Saito authored a working paper entitled “China’s Growing Maritime Role in the South and East China Seas.” Their analysis can be found on the CNAS website.
This project was made possible by the Government of Japan.
About The Asia-Paci c Security Program
The Asia-Paci c Security Program seeks to inform the exercise of U.S. leadership in Asia by analyzing how the United States can rebalance its priorities, shape a rules-based regional order, modernize traditional alliances, build the capacity of new partners, and strengthen multilateral institutions and respect for the rule of law. From exploring rising maritime tensions
in the region, to crafting ways to renew key alliances and partnerships, to articulating strategies to extend and enhance U.S. in uence, the program leverages the diverse experience and background of its team, deep relationships in the region and in Washington, and CNAS’ convening power to shape and elevate the conversation on U.S. policy across a changing Asia.
The views expressed in this report are the authors’ alone. They are solely responsible for any errors in fact, analysis, or omission.
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Pictured on the cover is China's rst indigenously built aircraft carrier, which launched in April 2017. At the time of publication the carrier was still unnamed. (Kyodo/AP Images)
The Challenge of China’s Blue-Water Navy
04 Introduction: China’s Emergence as a Global Maritime Power
06 China’s Naval Evolution: Strategy, Capabilities, and Missions for a Global PLAN
14 China’s Indian Ocean Venture: Rising Interests, In uence, and Naval Investments
19 U.S. Alliance Adaptation: Deterrence and Reassurance Amidst Blue-Water Rivalry
25 Space, Missile, and Cyberspace Technologies: Blue-Water Enablers and Vulnerabilities
30 Conclusions and Recommendations: The Path Ahead for the United States and its Allies
Beyond the San Hai: The Challenge of China’s Blue-Water Navy
Executive Summary
The United States has enjoyed largely uncontested naval supremacy across the blue waters, or open oceans, for decades. The rapid emergence of an increasingly global People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) suggests that this era will soon come to a close. China’s ability to conduct power projection and amphibious operations around the world will become a fundamental fact of politics in the near future, with signi cant consequences for the United States and its allies, all of which need to begin pre- paring for a “risen China” rather than a “rising China,” especially in the realm of maritime security. China’s expanding naval capabilities have implications that are di cult to grasp, and more importantly, consequences that will be impossible to ignore, and it is therefore all the more necessary for U.S. and allied planners to reckon with it now. This study has resulted in several key judg- ments and recommendations for policymakers.
Key Judgements
China will be a Blue-Water Naval Power by 2030: China is rapidly transforming itself from a continental power with a focus on its near seas to a great maritime power with a two-ocean focus. The PLAN is looking beyond the san hai – the Yellow Sea, South China Sea, and East China Sea – and out toward the Paci c and Indian Oceans.
China seeks Military In uence in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR): China’s dependence on energy and com- modity ows transiting the IOR gives it large interests
in maintaining the region’s maritime trade routes and political stability. China so far has prosecuted these interests through diplomacy and massive infrastructure development – notably the “One Belt, One Road” initia- tive – but it seeks military in uence, too. Its dual-use port projects, construction of a military base in Djibouti, and increasing deployments to the region strongly suggest it will become a military power in the IOR by 2030.

A Global PLAN O ers Possibilities for Cooperation and Competition: The United States and China will
have new opportunities to cooperate, especially in the Indian Ocean and Middle East, on humanitarian assis- tance, disaster relief, anti-piracy, and similar missions. Cooperation is unlikely to transfer from the Indian Ocean into China’s near seas, where China has strong territo- rial interests. Conversely, competition potentially could spread from China’s near seas into the Indian Ocean, where China fears U.S. interdiction of Indian Ocean trade and horizontal escalation of a Sino-American con ict.

China’s New Capabilities Will Increase Allied Abandonment Fears: China’s anti-access/area-de- nial capabilities already give it in uence in near-seas con icts over the South China Sea, East China Sea, and Taiwan Strait. When these are combined with China’s growing blue-water power projection and amphibious capabilities, China will obtain sharp advantages in near-seas con icts relative to U.S. allies and partners. Absent U.S. measures, this development could increase abandonment fears in Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan that cause redundant investments, defense strategies inimical to U.S. interests, and even con ict.
Future Trends in Sino-American Blue-Water Rivalry:
As China and the United States compete over blue waters, cyber space is likely to be an important frontier. With a larger global presence, the United States is more vulnerable to cyber competition than China.
Key Recommendations
Take Seriously China’s Maritime Challenge: China’s anti-access/area-denial capabilities already have jeopar- dized the U.S. presence in East Asia, and its blue-water capabilities threaten to open new arenas for maritime competition. The new administration should take these capabilities seriously; understand that they will pro- foundly reshape global politics and potentially globalize U.S.-China security competition; and revise wargames and strategic planning to address a global PLAN.
Respond to China’s Manipulation of the Balance
of Risk:
China’s risk-acceptant behavior has given Beijing certain strategic advantages in dealing with a risk-averse United States. To address this asymmetry, and to ensure U.S. presence does not become subject to Chinese invitation, the United States should stop prean- nouncing freedom-of-navigation operations, continue conducting carrier operations within the First Island Chain, and adopt a permanent warship presence in the South China Sea.
Invest in U.S. Maritime Capabilities: The United States should ensure that American blue-water naval and joint force capabilities are of su cient size and quality to compete with China’s naval expansion. With the PLAN approaching 500 ships by 2030, the U.S. Navy should move toward a minimum of 350. Requisite Marine, Air Force, and Army capabilities essential to maritime joint force missions should be strengthened.
Maintain and Diversify Forward-Deployed U.S. Military Forces in Asia: Committing to the U.S. for- ward-deployed position in Asia reassures allies, deters China, and ensures in uence over important sea lanes. To strengthen this position, the United States could home-port additional vessels in Guam and South Korea. It also should diversify its posture southward to the IOR by upgrading Diego Garcia and by pursuing new rotational agreements with Australia and India, among others.
Adapt and Advance U.S. Alliances and Partnerships:
To address allied anxieties, the United States should continue regular consultations with allies, strengthen its forward-deployed presence, and encourage allies to burden-share. Alliances can be strengthened by encour- aging greater connectivity and interoperability between allies and partners. Finally, expanding cooperation
and security dialogues to IOR partner states, espe- cially India, will help the United States shape China’s blue-water behavior.
Find Areas of Cooperation: The United States should seek opportunities to cooperate with a global PLAN
on humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, anti-piracy, and similar missions. In pursuing these opportunities, the United States should endeavor to include Australia, India, Japan, and other Asian states so such initiatives are not purely bilateral.

Join and Strengthen Multilateral Institutions: To channel China’s energies into constructive multilateral security cooperation, the United States should engage multilateral organizations, including Chinese initiatives such as One Belt, One Road as well as non-Chinese initia- tives in the IOR and East Asia.
T he United States has dominated the world’s blue waters for decades. A blue-water navy generally refers to a force capable of operating across open
oceans and deep waters. With China’s rise, however, the United States’ uncontested naval supremacy increasingly will be challenged. The rapid emergence of China as a maritime power in its own right, one with increasingly sophisticated expeditionary and power projection capa- bilities, is likely to profoundly reshape the politics of Asia and a ect the interests of the United States and its allies and partners. By 2030, the existence of a global Chinese navy will be an important, in uential, and fundamental fact of international politics. It is therefore all the more urgent for contemporary U.S. and allied security planners to both anticipate and address the consequences of China’s growing blue-water capabilities.
China has acquired these capabilities systematically. It has generally limited its investments in power projection capabilities, and o cially shunned both overseas bases as well as military alliances. And yet, despite these lim- itations, senior Chinese leaders long have held dreams for a blue-water navy.
Beijing’s blue-water aspirations date back to the early 1980s when Admiral Liu Huaqing, a PLAN commander and later a member of China’s ruling Politburo Standing Committee, put forward a three-phase development plan for a global PLAN equipped with aircraft carriers and expeditionary capabilities.1 In the decades since, China’s naval strategy has evolved from a focus on coasts in the 1970s to one on near seas in the 1980s and nally to one on distant blue waters. China’s blue-water imperative began in
in the South China Sea, constructed a facility in Djibouti that marks its rst overseas military base, and continued to invest heavily in anti-access/area-denial weapons as well as cyber and outer space capabilities. These new capabilities are decades in the making but are nally reaching the culminating point that will allow China to operate in the open oceans.
The growing maritime presence is altering China’s identity and perhaps even its interests and objec-
tives. Beijing has long claimed to eschew the trappings of previous great powers that converted economic
clout into military power, but its heavy investment in building a blue-water navy – one capable of conducting maneuvers throughout and beyond a single oceanic region – suggests its military ambitions are quite serious. In short, a global Chinese navy is likely to be a structural fact of politics in the period ahead, and one that requires the close attention of defense planners and policymakers throughout the world.

This report aims to help those defense planners and policymakers better understand the implications of this profound development. The report’s second chapter focuses on China’s ongoing acquisition of a global navy that will one day rival the United States in some of the world’s most important waters. It discusses the evolution of China’s naval strategy, the modernization of its navy for the far seas, and nally the kinds of missions a global PLAN likely will undertake. The third chapter focuses on China’s deployment of these naval capabilities to other regions, especially to the Indian Ocean and the Middle East. It explores China’s interests in the wider Indian Ocean, its
By 2030, the existence of a global Chinese navy will be an important, in uential, and fundamental fact of international politics.
earnest more than a decade ago, but its most o cial expli- cation came in 2015 when a signi cant government white paper, China’s Military Strategy, advocated for the PLAN to become a “maritime power” in “every corner of the globe.”2
More than China’s words and reports, however, it is China’s actions – especially its long-term military invest- ments in new capabilities – that are making its strategy
a concrete reality. Indeed, concomitant with China’s economic rise, the PLAN has invested steadily in a military modernization program that is transforming a country with a historically continentalist orientation into a maritime power. Historically, China has focused on its three near seas (san hai), but now it is looking beyond them in a “two ocean” strategy that could enable it to challenge the United States in both the broader Western Paci c and Indian Ocean. To that end, China has reorganized the PLAN, elevated the importance of the South Sea Fleet, invested
in power projection platforms such as aircraft carriers and landing platform docks, built substantial military outposts

political and economic in uence there, and nally the way its military investments in the region may interact cooper- atively or competitively with American naval power. The fourth chapter considers how China’s growing blue-water capabilities will directly a ect U.S. allies and partners. It is paradoxical but nonetheless highly signi cant that China’s far-seas capabilities will have near-seas implications for Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan. This chapter discusses those implications, the near-seas geographic constraints on China’s blue-water expansion, and the possibility that Japan may acquire its own blue-water capabilities in response. The fth chapter turns to consider the future of Sino-American blue-water competition. It pays particular attention to the way competition in cyberspace shapes blue-water rivalry. The sixth and nal chapter o ers concrete recommendations. It is intended to provoke con- structive, long-term strategy and policy discussion within the Trump administration, in Congress, and in Japan and other allied and partner capitals.
China’s Naval Evolution
A s China has risen, its leaders have advocated for a navy commensurate with both growing national prestige and increasingly expansive
interests.3As a part of these e orts, China has worked feverishly to increase the size of its navy. In short order, it has emerged as one of the world’s leading shipbuilders, relying on a mix of both private yards and state-run companies, as well as commercial theft, to sustain its rapid naval modernization.4 These bold measures have met with considerable success, and China’s navy is now perhaps the world’s second-largest. By 2015, China was estimated to have a eet of 330 surface vessels and 66 submarines. By 2030, if present trends continue, it will have a eet of 432 surface vessels and 99 submarines – one that is signi cantly larger than the U.S. equivalent.5
The story of China’s naval modernization is not only one of quantitative improvement, but also one of signi - cant qualitative enhancement as well. Since 2000, China has focused increasingly on blue-water capabilities, beginning by experimenting with blue-water missions in the First and Second Island Chains before progressing to more sophisticated and frequent far seas deploy- ments.6 Over the last decade, China also has dramatically increased its investment in capabilities needed for blue- water power projection and amphibious operations in distant waters. As one U.S. observer writes:
China is putting into place power projection com- ponents – carrier air, land attack cruise missiles on multi-mission destroyers, and amphibious forces – that, when assembled as a task force, are very credible. By 2020 China will have the sec- ond-largest modern amphibious capability in the world (after the United States), and potentially will be able to embark between 5,000–6,000 marines for operations anywhere in the world.7
This trend marks a fundamental shift in world politics, one in which a Chinese navy capable of amphibious operations and power projection joins the U.S. Navy
in plying open ocean. This chapter analyzes this rapid development in three parts: it discusses the (1) previous evolution of Chinese naval strategy; (2) the present modernization of Chinese naval capabilities; (3) and the future development of China’s naval missions.

The Evolution of PLAN Strategy
Over its modern history, China’s naval strategy and missions have expanded signi cantly, with each change resulting in new responsibilities, operational require- ments, and capabilities. Until the 1970s, the PLAN practiced “near coast defense,” which was limited to coastal areas. It largely envisioned the extension of land battles to coastal areas, and primarily anticipated a Soviet amphibious invasion as part of a broader ground campaign.8
China’s naval strategy began to shift under Admiral Liu Huaqing, the commander of the PLAN and later a member of China’s ruling Politburo Standing Committee. In part because of his in uence, in the late 1980s China began to pursue a “near seas active defense” or “o shore defense” strategy, which pushed the PLAN beyond coastal areas and envisioned independent PLAN opera- tions farther out. Speci cally, the “near seas” component of this strategy envisioned defense of the waters within the First Island Chain, including the Yellow Sea, East China Sea, and South China Sea both to uphold China’s maritime and territorial claims and to defend the mainland from invasion by sea.9 The Taiwan Strait Crises of 1995/1996 were a particularly important moment in China’s military development, as they demonstrated
that the United States could project naval power near
the Taiwan Strait, leaving China with little recourse. It subsequently developed an “active defense” portion of its near-seas strategy to involve joint combined arms cam- paigns that aimed to keep hostile actors at bay or deny them freedom of operations. Today, this has evolved into anti-access/area-denial (A2/AD) approaches involving ballistic and cruise missiles.

The USS Nimitz and the USS Independence, pictured here, led two aircraft carrier battle groups in the vicinity of the Strait of Taiwan in 1996 to counter Chinese coercion of Taiwan. The event is thought to be a turning point in Chinese naval strategy. (Photographer's Mate 2nd Class Chris Ware/U.S. Navy)
Beyond the San Hai: The Challenge of China’s Blue-Water Navy
Even as China made this initially limited shift to “near seas active defense,” Admiral Liu Huaqing had a broader and far more transformative vision in mind for what would eventually be a global PLAN. In Liu’s vision, this strategy would take place in three phases. Bernard Cole provides a rough outline of Liu’s aspirations:
By 2000, the PLAN would be capable of exerting sea control out to the First Island Chain, de ned by the Kurile Islands, Japan and the Ryukyu Islands, the Philippines, and the Indonesian archipelago.
By 2020, sea control would be enforced out to the Second Island Chain, de ned by the Kuriles, Japan and the Bonin Islands, the Marianas Islands, Palau, and the Indonesian archipelago.
By 2050, the PLAN would operate globally, with aircraft carrier battle groups.10
Liu’s three-part plan continues to nd expression in contemporary speeches and high-level documents, with senior leaders themselves taking up the mantle of a global PLAN. Nearly 20 years ago, China’s leaders argued they needed to be able to defend Chinese national inter- ests that were increasingly located farther from Chinese shores. This conclusion was made public and o cial with then-President Hu Jintao’s 2004 announcement
of “New Historic Missions” for the PLAN, which would involve resource protection overseas. Subsequently, PLAN strategy has shifted from a sole focus on “near seas active defense” to add “far seas protection,” or “open seas protection,” even as it continues to emphasize – if not prioritize – its near-seas defense missions and attendant A2/AD capabilities.
Although the announcement of “New Historic Missions” hinted at a more global PLAN, subsequent Chinese statements have made such goals far more explicit and elevated the importance of the PLAN’s blue-water missions. In 2015, China published an o cial national white paper titled China’s Military Strategy.11 It argued that security principally comes “from the ocean,” that China must transform its maritime strategy from “o shore waters defense” to “open seas protection”
and “strategic deterrence and counterattack,” and that active defense requires the navy to become a “maritime power” in “every corner of the globe.”
12 It marks the high- est-level and most authoritative explication of China’s blue-water ambitions to date and highlights a few broad goals for its navy.
The Modernization of PLAN Capabilities
China’s evolving naval strategy is underwritten by concrete investments in modernization, especially in power projection and expeditionary forces. For the last several years, China has launched more ships than any other country in the world, and this trend is expected to continue for at least another decade.13
China has not released a long-term naval shipbuilding plan, but analysts can make reasonable estimates about its future force structure. By 2020, the PLAN will surpass Britain, Russia, Japan, and India to become the second largest navy in the world. Some estimates suggest that it will homeport 265–273 major surface vessels and could surpass the U.S. Navy in number as early as 2022.14 By 2030, many forecasts suggest that China will be quan- titatively on par with the United States, while others suggest Beijing may even have a signi cantly larger naval order of battle than the United States (i.e., perhaps 500 PLAN vessels to 300 for the U.S. Navy).15
Regarding qualitative comparisons, most analysts assume that by 2030 China’s navy will not be far behind the U.S. Navy with respect to certain key power pro- jection and expeditionary capabilities.16 The most signi cant area of convergence is in carrier strike groups (CSGs). China is already organizing its far-seas operations around CSGs and will have perhaps two operational carriers in the near term, with a far-seas navy that at least initially resembles a smaller version of U.S. blue-water force structure both in capabilities and vessel classes.17 By 2030, if these trends continue, the PLAN will have capabilities that will facilitate a far-seas presence and allow for near-seas defense, surge operations, and goodwill deployments. By 2030, it is likely China will have at least two, perhaps even four carrier strike groups. As the U.S. experience reminds us, however, these will not all be at sea at once, but deployed on a cycle.
Although the PLAN has not released any detailed information on the composition of its CSGs, certain inferences can be made about the capabilities and vessels required to support and make survivable its aircraft carriers. In essence, China will need to improve its logistics support, produce more multi-mission destroyers and frigates, rely on amphibious ships with helicopter capabilities, and improve its antisubmarine systems and air defenses to ensure protection against air, surface, and subsurface strikes.18 One PLA author envisions that China’s carrier strike groups will include four to six guided missile destroyers and frigates, one to two nuclear attack or conventional submarines, and one supply ship.19
U.S. and Chinese Capabilities in 2000, 2016, and 203091
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Aircraft Carrier
1 12
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55 42
6 12
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0 4
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Large Surface Combatants
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Small Surface Combatants
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* Large Surface Combatants are de ned as cruisers and destroyers.
Small Surface Combatants are de ned as frigates, LCSs, and mine warfare ships. SSBN- nuclear powered ballistic missile submarine
SSGN- nuclear powered guided missile submarine
SSN- nuclear powered attack submarine
SSK- diesel powered submarine

Beyond the San Hai: The Challenge of China’s Blue-Water Navy
China is well into the process of building this larger force structure to support its aircraft carriers. Indeed, wmany of China’s modern surface combatants, subma- rines, amphibious ships, auxiliaries, and other platforms are already suited for both near-seas and far-seas opera- tions.20 A crucial element of this force structure is China’s new class of multi-mission destroyers – 8,000-ton warships with land-attack cruise missile capabilities that most nearly resemble the U.S. DDG-51.21 China currently has eight of these destroyers and may have as many as 18 to 20 by the early 2020s.22 The PLAN is already receiving new Shang-class nuclear-powered attack submarines.23 With respect to antisurface warfare, China’s vessels soon will be able to deploy more antiship cruise missiles with longer ranges than the U.S. Navy.24 Finally, with respect to expeditionary capabilities, China’s four new 20,000- ton landing platform docks can embark 800 soldiers
or marines and provide an amphibious capability with utility not only in Taiwan scenarios but also in contingen- cies outside of East Asia.25
Setting aside China’s military investments, observa- tions of PLAN behavior suggest that the navy has been “normalizing” far-seas training missions, including those that simulate opposing forces, and focusing on the di - cult long-distance combat support capabilities that give a navy global reach.26 Moreover, one of the most important recent indicators of China’s interest in plying the far seas has been the construction of its rst overseas military base. Breaking with long-standing policy, in 2016, on the coastal scrubland of Djibouti and just a few miles from America’s largest base in Africa, Beijing built a naval facility to anchor its economic and security interests on the other side of the Indian Ocean.27
Black Swans at Sea –
Challenges for PLAN Modernization
China’s e orts to build far-seas capabilities and bases have occasioned a wealth of recent commentary by experienced China watchers and military experts, both o cial and non-o cial. Although present trends strongly suggest a global PLAN with more vessels than the United States and similar blue-water capabilities by 2030, there remain lingering questions about whether such trends are immune to certain “black swan” events. Indeed, there are at least four ways that the PLAN’s expansion could be disrupted or derailed.
First, China has been building shipyards and ships without much attention to the full life-cycle costs of its investments, and these costs will begin to catch up to Beijing once its vessels are seaborne. As naval experts have noted, a government is likely to pay two or three
times the initial costs of a vessel over its entire life, and China’s enthusiastic production may begin to slow as these costs begin to be realized. It is therefore unlikely that China can remain on its current shipbuilding tra- jectory inde nitely.28
Second, China’s naval development continues to
be uneven across ship classes and technologies. It has encountered roadblocks to building modern propul- sion systems, for example, and the PLAN continues
to struggle with logistics and antisubmarine warfare, among other areas.
29 Even if Beijing is able to cope with the life-cycle costs of its rapidly expanding eet, it may leave holes in its blue-water force structure as a result of these uneven developments.
Third, analysts must keep in mind that, quite apart from its defense planning, China’s economic fortunes could take a turn. Most economists agree that China’s economy has begun to slow signi cantly, and believe that the days of double-digit growth are in its past. Rather than simply slowing to 6 or 7 percent annual growth, however, it is possible that China’s economy will stagnate or stumble.30 A simple slowdown seems unlikely to derail shipbuilding plans as China’s naval goals are such a high priority for its leadership, but
a major disruptive economic event or deep stag- nation could force the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to revise its plans.

Fourth, the naval trajectories outlined here could be disrupted by technological innovation in the United States or China. Naval development and production is relatively slow and plodding, and it is therefore espe- cially susceptible to sudden disruptive technological
A [market] slowdown seems unlikely to derail shipbuilding plans as China’s naval goals are such a high priority for
its leadership, but a major disruptive economic event or deep stagnation could force the CCP to revise its plans.
advances that change naval warfare. If the United States were to develop a path-breaking naval technology as
an early part of its Third O set, for example, this could have a signi cant impact on China’s ability to achieve its longer-term objectives – including establishing sea control in its near seas. The United States’ decision to repurpose the SM-6 missile and
Virginia-class payload
module, for example, will meaningfully improve its land and sea attack capabilities.31 While U.S. Navy planners can only assume that China’s 2030 capabilities will match its stated objectives, it also is important for Washington and its closest allies to remember that the future of PLAN development also may depart from its recent past.
One or more of these four challenges could signi - cantly alter China’s naval modernization. Nonetheless, China is still likely to have the second largest “far seas” navy in the world as soon as 2020, with roughly 100 overseas combatants.32 It is important to recall, however, that China’s open-ocean capabilities will still not give it a truly global presence. The PLAN is unlikely to challenge the United States in open-water combat until after 2030. China’s naval modernization, however, still will reshape international politics. Much like the Soviet Navy of the 1970s and 1980s, an increasingly global PLAN will give China unprecedented political freedom of action and pose challenges for the United States across East Asia, the Indian Ocean region, and the Middle East.
More fundamentally, a shipbuilding slowdown probably will not dramatically alter China’s ability to ful ll the key maritime objectives of its 2015 white paper. That paper suggested that China must (1) develop a modern maritime military force structure; (2) safeguard its sovereignty and its maritime rights and interests; (3) protect the security of the sea lanes on which it relies; and (4) participate in international maritime cooper- ation.33 These new missions for a global PLAN will be realizable even if certain “black swans” a ict China’s naval modernization, and for that reason, it is worth con- sidering them in greater detail.
Future Missions for a Global PLAN
Previous CNAS research has concluded that, by
2030, China may be capable of conducting a range of missions throughout the Indo-Paci c, including major humanitarian assistance/disaster relief operations, noncombatant evacuation operations (NEOs), securing high-value assets such as nuclear weapons, defense
of sea lines of communication (SLOCs), sea-to-shore strike, and limited stabilization operations.
34 This section expands on that analysis, laying out a number of plau- sible missions in which a global PLA might engage.
They are separated by peacetime, times of crisis, and times of con ict, although in practice the lines between these states are blurry and many missions may apply in multiple conditions.

China has been exploring its blue-water equipment and human capital abilities through peacetime missions, notably through near- continuous anti-piracy deployments since 2009 o the Horn of Africa. Here, U.S. and Chinese sailors participate in a joint search and seizure training event in the Gulf of Aden. (Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Gary M. Keen/U.S. Navy)
China’s near-continuous deployments since 2009 to assist in international anti-piracy e orts in the Gulf of Aden give us some sense of the out-of-area activities China may continue to pursue in peacetime. It will try to shape its environment to prevent the emergence of tradi- tional and nontraditional threats to its security.
Military Diplomacy: Chinese forces deploying to
the Gulf of Aden routinely make goodwill port calls
on states throughout the Indian Ocean and into the Mediterranean, and these in turn allow for joint military exercises, such as the
Joint Sea-2015 exercises with Russia in the Mediterranean Sea and the landmark 2014 naval exercise with Iran.35 Chinese scholars empha-
size the role that such security cooperation plays in promoting overall positive political relations with the partner countries, as well as potentially generating future opportunities for expanded access and presence arrangements for the PLA.
36 China is likely to augment its military outreach through arms sales, including poten- tially to U.S. allies and traditional arms customers.37
Maritime Security Patrols: Expanded presence and capacity will allow China to play a greater role in the strategic SLOCs that traverse the Indian Ocean. China already has contributed to navigational security through its aforementioned participation, albeit as an “inde- pendent provider,” in the multilateral Gulf of Aden counterpiracy e ort, which experts believe is likely to
Beyond the San Hai: The Challenge of China’s Blue-Water Navy
continue at least as long as the Security Council autho- rizes the mission.38 PLAN o cials are expecting pelagic convoy escort to be a long-term military requirement, and China’s white paper includes its aspiration to provide more “public security goods.”39 China’s presence and greater operational exibility can be used not only
overseas basing arrangement in Djibouti is likely geared in part to facilitate these types of operations.40 So far, China’s NEOs have involved no combat, but future episodes may see increasingly capable Chinese amphibious forces conducting opposed interventions in civil con icts to rescue Chinese citizens.
Stabilization Operations: As China’s overseas investments grow, so do its equities in the political stability of the
host countries. As the PLAN achieves greater endurance, whether through overseas basing agreements or organic logistics support such as oating bases,
41 Beijing will
have greater scope to consider intervention to stabilize distant crises.
42 Beijing is slowly shedding its doctrinaire adherence to the principle of non-interference in other countries’ a airs, but also considers large-scale ground occupations of foreign countries largely ine ective.43 Thus, any stabilization operation would have to be, at least ex ante, limited in scale and duration. Nevertheless, it is possible to envision China in the 2020s conducting such operations either in concert with other nations or alone.44
Coercive Diplomacy: A global PLAN presence allows China to conduct shows of force and surge operations to shape the actions and calculations of other states. One PLAN o cer from the Academy of Military Sciences has advocated use of Chinese forward presence for “active
A global PLAN presence allows China to conduct shows of force and surge operations
to shape the actions and calculations of other states.

deterrence” to prevent or resolve crises.45 Given the PLAN’s increasing capabilities for power projections using precision-guided weapons, amphibious capabilities, and naval airpower, a PLAN task force that appeared o the coast of a country engaged in a dispute with China would have a powerful coercive e ect. If this were done unilaterally, it would create a dilemma for other nations, including the United States, about whether and how to intervene. Similarly, China could employ forward-de- ployed forces in ways that complicate or even disrupt
U.S. coercive operations in the region, much as the Soviet Union attempted – with some success – to prevent the United States from intervening in the 1967 and 1973 Arab-Israeli wars. Such actions would raise the specter
of a general escalation of tensions emanating from
a crisis in the IOR.
China’s Peace Ark hospital ship, pictured here during the 2014 RIMPAC exercise, has been deployed to disaster zones around the world and burnished perceptions of Beijing’s soft power. (Mass Communications Specialist 1st Class Shannon Renfroe/U.S. Navy)
against pirates, but also in international e orts to counter the spread of dangerous weapons, as demonstrated by the PLAN’s participation in the international e ort to dispose of Syrian chemical weapons.
Humanitarian Assistance/Disaster Relief: China’s growing amphibious and aviation capabilities will allow it to play a greater role in responses to potential human- itarian disasters, as outlined in recent defense white papers. The PLAN has been conducting more and more deployments of its Peace Ark hospital ship to disaster zones around the world, which burnishes China’s international image and softens concerns about Chinese expansionism. China’s capacity to make such contribu- tions will increase with its overseas presence.
Noncombatant Evacuation Operations: Beijing’s 2013 and 2015 defense white papers make clear that protection
of Chinese nationals working abroad – of whom there are already more than 5 million, a number likely to swell as the One Belt, One Road initiative moves forward – is

a high priority for the CCP. China already has had to rescue thousands of citizens from escalating violence in Libya in 2011 and Yemen in 2015. China's milestone
Power Projection: The modern PLAN vessels that are suited to far-seas duty have increasingly sophisticated power projection capabilities.47 The PLAN’s growing amphibious capabilities, including the Type 071 Yuzhao- class landing platform docks, are notable. Perhaps
even more signi cant are the PLAN’s emerging strike capabilities. The surface eet, especially its most recent destroyers and frigates, have long-range antiship and land-attack cruise missiles. The PLAN has invested heavily in a range of sensors and datalinks to enable over- the-horizon targeting. Its submarine eet and nascent aircraft carrier program are not currently suited to land-attack missions, but in the future, the PLAN likely will be able to conduct strikes ashore against undefended targets, perhaps for counterterrorism missions.
Contesting Sea Control: Most analysts judge that the Chinese navy will not be able to challenge the U.S. Navy for sea control beyond the range of airpower based
on China’s shores for decades, if ever. Developing the requisite area air defense and open-water antisub- marine warfare capabilities will be a major challenge. Nevertheless, China still sees protecting the major Indian Ocean SLOCs – its energy “lifelines”– as a major defense

China’s far-seas missions require it to be able to protect the sea lanes in wartime, and therefore call upon the PLAN to be able to contest U.S.
sea control in an increasingly wider arc.

priority, and it likely will try to use its forces toward that end. China’s deployment of attack submarines into the Indian Ocean since 2013, nominally under the banner
of its counterpiracy and naval escort forces, has been

an important development in its forward posture.48 Submarines are not publicly included in U.S.-led coun- terpiracy task forces, suggesting the PLAN’s cruises
may be aimed at practicing other skills. China’s goal is to keep Indo-Paci c commerce, especially energy supplies, owing. The government reportedly hopes to ensure control of the commercial decision-making by setting a target that “as much as 85 percent of the foreign crude oil purchased by China be carried by Chinese-controlled ships.”49 Therefore, the PLAN’s likely priority in wartime is not to destroy the U.S. eet, but to use its waxing antisurface capability for counter-interdiction, especially around key choke points.
The foregoing list of potential missions is by no means exhaustive, nor is it guaranteed that China will develop the capability or intention to undertake all of them. But these missions are within the realm of possibility given expert judgments about the trajectory of China’s naval development. China’s far-seas missions require it to be able to protect the sea lanes in wartime, and therefore call upon the PLAN to be able to contest U.S. sea control in an increasingly wider arc.50 Far-seas operations will require China to develop a new force structure, as well as to grow its naval capabilities and to diversify them
in type.51 This mission set requires a mix of capabilities that can allow China to operate thousands of miles from its shores, including surface combatants, aircraft, and submarines.52 As these capabilities mature, China will be able to carry out these missions beyond the san hai and into the broader IOR as well as the Middle East. As China ventures out, its geographic presence across Asia could well reshape the region’s politics.
China’s Indian Ocean Venture
I t is now clear that China’s naval strategy, capabilities, and missions have evolved to focus more closely on distant blue waters than at any other time in China’s
modern history. What is far less clear, however, is how
to understand the political and strategic rami cations
of this increasingly capable PLAN. For that reason, this section looks beyond China’s more traditional “near seas” missions within the First and Second Island Chains and considers China’s growing military presence in the IOR.

As Chinese naval vessels sail from eastern China through the Malacca Strait and as far as the energy-rich Middle East, China will be transformed from a regional power largely constrained by East Asian geography to a global one with a large footprint stretching throughout the Indo-Paci c. China’s “two ocean” strategy increas- ingly will draw its attention both to the Paci c and Indian Oceans, though China’s in uence in these two regions will not necessarily be equal. Although China may be able to actively oppose U.S. sea control operations within the First and Second Island Chains, in part because it can rely on its A2/AD capabilities, its navy would face signi cant challenges in conducting high intensity warfare with the United States in the Arabian Sea or o the African coast.
Even so, the PLAN will be among the most powerful navies in the IOR, able to conduct signi cant open-seas operations and power projection ashore. China will be able to a ect maritime security in critical sea lanes, in u- ence events ashore in countries along the Indian Ocean littoral, and shape the U.S. response to regional crises
all the way from the Middle East to East Asia. China’s
China’s Interests in the Indian Ocean
and Middle East
In some respects, China’s ties to the Indian Ocean region are long-standing. Over the course of history, China
often has been connected to the IOR through the trade and commerce that owed across both the continental and maritime Silk Road; nevertheless, today’s dense
ties nonetheless mark a sharp departure from the long history of economic interaction between these regions: never before has China’s prosperity and resource security depended so heavily on Indian Ocean trade ows.

Beginning in the late 1970s, as Chinese economic growth accelerated and its imports and exports across the Indian Ocean began to grow, the country’s leaders increasingly recognized their dependence on the SLOCs connecting China and the Middle East. As previous CNAS research has demonstrated, China’s economy is starkly dependent on imported economic inputs from the Middle East and Africa – especially oil, gas, and certain raw minerals – with signi cant implications
for Chinese security.
Over the last few decades, as it has become virtually dependent on Middle East resources, China has dis- cussed that dependence in high-level documents and speeches, including former President Hu Jintao’s invo- cation of “New Historic Missions,” as well as in various o cial white papers and pseudo-doctrinal military publications. In non-o cial Chinese writings, it often is explicitly stated that one potential reason for China’s increased focus on IOR resource ows stems from
As Chinese naval vessels sail from eastern China through the Malacca Strait and as far as the energy-rich Middle East, China will be transformed from a regional power largely constrained by East Asian geography to a global one with a large footprint stretching throughout the Indo-Paci c.
growing in uence outside the Western Paci c will present new opportunities for both cooperation and con ict between Beijing and Washington. It is one of the main reasons that U.S.-China relations in 2030 may well make today’s complex and often fraught bilateral ties seem quaintly simple by comparison.
Addressing these developments will require the United States to look over the horizon and formulate a nuanced response. To that end, this chapter will discuss (1) China’s interests in the IOR; (2) its multifaceted political, economic, and diplomatic engagement with the region; and (3) the implications of its growing military power for the United States.
China’s fear of a potential U.S. maritime blockade of oil shipments owing across the Arabian Sea and through the Malacca Strait – even though such an initiative would be costly and exceedingly di cult to implement.
Resource ows may increasingly occupy the attention of top Chinese defense planners, but they are not the only reason for China’s growing interests in the IOR; indeed, the domestic politics and political stability of the IOR’s various resource-supplying states also can profoundly in uence Chinese interests. At present, China generally lacks the capability to in uence these states through military means or to secure these SLOCs from military threats. For that reason, it has tended to emphasize
Beijing’s One Belt, One Road Initiative aims to connect China with Eurasia and parts of Africa. This initiative includes projects to improve maritime connectivity via ports that can be dual-use in the future.
Beyond the San Hai: The Challenge of China’s Blue-Water Navy
other forms of statecraft that give Beijing a larger role in the region’s a airs and in the domestic politics of local states, all so that Beijing can ensure the continued production and transportation of vital commodities
to its shores.
China’s Political and Economic Statecraft
China’s attempts to in uence a airs in the IOR have not been restricted to its military investments and modernization; perhaps more fundamentally, China has strengthened its political and economic statecraft across the region. These e orts may well reshape the interests of the region’s states and provide a political and infrastructural foundation for an increased Chinese military presence across the IOR – even as they create new Chinese liabilities in the form of costly projects, overseas Chinese communities, and overseas facilities.54
Chinese Expansion into the Indian Ocean Region92
China’s broader IOR strategy advanced rapidly with the announcement in 2013 of Xi Jinping’s One Belt, One Road initiative. This ambitious initiative seeks to link China with the rest of Eurasia and parts of Africa both through maritime and overland routes.55 The maritime compo- nent of this strategy, known as the “Twenty-First Century Maritime Silk Road,” involves Chinese investment in and construction of port facilities and other infrastructure
all across the Indian Ocean region. These projects are intended to facilitate maritime connectivity across routes upon which China long has relied, and to that end China has invested more than $100 billion across Western Asia, the Middle East, and North Africa since 2014 – with far greater amounts committed for the future.56
Critically, the Maritime Silk Road is not simply an economic program. By institutionalizing China’s invest- ments and its relationships with states across the Indian
Afghanistan Pakistan
China's commerical and naval ports
Confirmed dual use Possible dual use
Djibouti, China's only overseas military base and naval port
Silk Road Economic Belt
21st-Century Maritime Silk Road
Ocean, the initiative also has profound political conse- quences. In short, the Maritime Silk Road a ords China the opportunity to convert economic aid into political in uence that in turn may yield geostrategic bene ts, including greater military access for a more expedi- tionary PLA.57 Many of China’s port projects likely are dual-use and could accommodate military vessels as well as civilian ones, o ering China the opportunity to pursue a “places not bases” strategy with a lighter foot- print than one focused entirely on permanent military facilities. Indeed, few aspects of international politics are as complicated as stationing troops on the sover- eign soil of another country. Even so, China’s enhanced military presence still will require some bases like its recent facility in Djibouti. Chinese scholars acknowl- edge that sustained presence and in uence will require expanded basing agreements, which it has learned from America’s experience are politically di cult to obtain and tricky to maintain.
The political foundations of China’s military posture in the Indian Ocean require close attention from Beijing. Chinese o cials and scholars recognize that building
up a sustained military presence in the Indian Ocean requires a generally receptive attitude from the countries in regions where it operates. They also acknowledge
that their expanding power engenders suspicions that will have to be handled deftly and promptly. Economic investment, foreign assistance, and political cooperation can create goodwill, but they cannot fully soften the sharp edges of greater military participation. To make
its future military position in the IOR less threatening, China’s 2015 national security white paper advocates “[strengthening] international security cooperation in areas crucially related to China’s overseas interests.” In other words, even as Beijing takes more unilateral steps in its home waters, to the greatest extent possible it will embed its out-of-area activities within international, legal, or multilateral frameworks. It also will supplement these political arrangements with economic initiatives, such as the Maritime Silk Road, and a variety of other possible future programs.

Implications for Sino-American Relations
The fact that China’s military presence in the IOR requires local political support o ers Washington a variety of opportunities to work with littoral countries to critically shape the nature of China’s overseas security activism. Chinese IOR activism will create ripples throughout the region, and U.S. policymakers would
do well to rmly grasp how China’s behavior interacts with preexisting political cleavages within the region
to create the potential for new partnerships. They also will need to better understand how the aperture of U.S.-China interactions – expanded beyond East Asian and global governance matters to security matters in the Indian Ocean and Middle East – will reshape the overall dynamics of bilateral relations. In speci c terms, there are at least three broad areas worth greater consider- ation: (1) the implications of greater Chinese involvement in the Middle East; (2) the potential for Sino-American cooperation across the IOR; and (3) the complex strategic linkage between the Indian Ocean and Western Paci c.
First, China’s involvement in the Middle East could lead to strategic competition with the United States in a region of signi cant economic consequence and consid- erable political instability. Both the United States and China may increasingly acquire the ability to undermine the other’s respective goals in this region in a reprisal
of U.S.-Soviet Middle East rivalry during the Cold War. Even absent such overtly competitive behavior, the di erences in the two countries’ political systems means that they may take fundamentally di erent approaches to regional hot spots, such as future instability in Pakistan.

As Chinese in uence in the Middle East begins to grow, it is also clear that the American commitment
(and capability) to remain involved in the region and
to secure its resource ows may increasingly rely on
the U.S. domestic-political environment. Decreasing dependence on foreign energy, combined with growing nationalist and isolationist sentiments among American voters, may decrease political will for maintaining U.S. forces in the region.
58 Similarly, the U.S. role in the region rests on the support of Arab leaders whose own polit- ical situations may change in the years ahead. Although reduced U.S. in uence would spare China the possibility of Sino-American competition in the Middle East, it
still would bring serious potential liabilities for Beijing. As discussed previously, securing the SLOCs between the Gulf and East Asia requires any maritime power to possess not only operationally robust blue-water naval units, but also permanent and stable support facilities on the ground in the Middle East to assist such naval operations. In attempting to obtain such facilities, China may deliberately or inadvertently entangle itself in the region’s complicated politics in ways that could prove counterproductive.
This leads to a second possibility in the Middle East and wider IOR – Sino-American cooperation. Indeed, given the serious di culties China may face in sustaining a presence in the region, it is possible that instead of pursuing an overtly competitive strategy in the Middle East as well as in the broader IOR, China’s leaders will
Beyond the San Hai: The Challenge of China’s Blue-Water Navy
seek some form of multilateral or bilateral collaboration. Such a scenario would militate against the view that expansions of Chinese power are necessarily threats to U.S. interests, and there may instead be an opportunity to leverage Beijing’s very real equities in the region as well as its desire to be welcomed within it into a partnership for addressing areas of mutual concern throughout the IOR. By building on recent anti-piracy cooperation, the United States may be able to channel growing Chinese activism into multilateral frameworks for addressing regional issues ranging from nonproliferation to disaster relief and refugee ows.59 And yet, although China’s growing Indian Ocean presence and its “two ocean” strategy may appear to create possibilities for coopera- tion, it would be misguided to assume that cooperation in one ocean would necessarily spill positively into the politics of the second ocean.
By building on recent anti- piracy cooperation, the United States may be able to channel growing Chinese activism into multilateral frameworks for addressing regional issues ranging from nonproliferation to disaster relief and refugee ows.
This leads to a third and nal consideration: In the balance sheet of Sino-American relations, it is unlikely that Indian Ocean a airs will outweigh equities in Asia itself. On the one hand, this has certain positive attri- butes. It is generally unlikely that a miscommunication or clash outside of Asia could lead to a general U.S.-China war the way that a clash in Asia’s ashpoints – such as the East or South China Seas, Taiwan Strait, or Korean
Peninsula – might. On the other hand, even though coop- eration in the Indian Ocean is unlikely to spill into Asia, it nonetheless remains possible that con ict in Asia could pour into the politics of the Indian Ocean. U.S. mastery of Indian Ocean sea lanes creates a profound vulnerability for China. As Chinese overseas interests and capabilities grow, these sea lanes may provide both sides with the prospect of horizontal escalation for the purposes of sig- naling, coercion, and operational advantage in wartime. The precise ways in which this will in uence con ict and bargaining dynamics are hard to specify ex ante, but it will be imperative for the United States to understand them as circumstances change.
Although the relationship between the United States and China in the Indian Ocean and Middle East could vary between cooperation and con ict, one fact remains certain: Unchallenged U.S. supremacy in this broad region cannot be taken for granted in the future. In
force posture, military planning, and crisis responses, the United States increasingly will need to account for likely Chinese reactions, much as it did vis-à-vis the Soviet Union during the Cold War. The United States is of course not the only state that will need to cope with a global PLAN. U.S. allies in East Asia also will need to plan for a world in which U.S. naval power is contested, and as they do, they are likely to nd that China’s far-seas capa- bilities hold important implications for Asia’s near-seas strategic competition.

U.S. Alliance Adaptation
19 19
Beyond the San Hai: The Challenge of China’s Blue-Water Navy
A s defense planners wrestle with the implications of China’s quest to build a navy for the open ocean, they also must consider the e ects of that
naval modernization closer to China’s shores, particularly for close U.S. allies. China’s pursuit of a blue-water navy for far-seas operations in the Indian Ocean and the Middle East will strengthen the PLAN’s ability to conduct near- seas defense missions. This in turn may raise signi cant deterrence and assurance concerns for allies and partners like Japan and South Korea, which are likely to fear aban- donment absent concrete U.S. reassurance.
This chapter analyzes the implications of China’s new far-seas capabilities and strengthened near-seas defense capabilities for U.S. allies. It explores (1) the near-seas consequences of China’s blue-water navy for U.S. allies and territorial disputes; (2) how these allies might exploit near-seas geography to frustrate Chinese far-seas operations; and nally (3) whether and how U.S. allies may themselves venture out into distant blue- waters in response to a global PLAN.
Far-Seas Forces, Near-Seas Consequences
An increasingly global PLAN that operates in the far seas likely will have consequences for U.S. allies in China’s near seas. As the PLAN gains the ability to operate in the Indian Ocean, o the African Coast, and in the Middle East, U.S. allies in East Asia undoubtedly will be a ected. There are perhaps three direct ways a more global PLAN presents challenges for U.S. allies in East Asia.
First, as China’s naval expansion proceeds, Beijing will gain the ability to more competently execute complex near-seas missions. Experience in amphibious opera- tions or power projection from Indian Ocean ventures can transfer directly to near-seas operations in the South China Sea, East China Sea, Taiwan Strait, and even around the Korean Peninsula.
Second, China’s far-seas assets will almost certainly
be dedicated to near-seas missions. Amphibious vessels and aircraft carriers will operate not only in the Indian Ocean but also within the First Island Chain, where
they can be used for campaigns involving Taiwan or the Senkaku Islands. This use of far-seas assets is likely in large part because China’s blue-water missions will not become a higher priority than near-seas contingencies involving territorial disputes. If China’s far-seas opera- tions remain a secondary mission set, and if the PLAN continues to place priority on near-seas active defense, then its far-seas assets can and will be readily dispatched for local operations – especially because in many cases they will be based o China’s coast rather than in faraway Indian Ocean sites.

Third, China’s blue-water navy may inaugurate a cycle of increasing naval investment. As international-relations scholars long have noted, rising powers’ capabilities tend to expand along with their interests. Although it is di - cult to make predictions about the size and structure of the PLAN beyond 2030, the notion that Chinese interests will feed naval shipbuilding, and that naval shipbuilding in turn will feed an ever more expansive de nition of Chinese interests, is a plausible and powerful force that could a ect near-seas contingencies. Moreover, naval expansion can create domestic interest groups in favor of continued naval shipbuilding. In this way, initial plans for a relatively conservative four-carrier navy may grow into plans for a still larger one – and all those new assets can be directed to near-seas contingencies.
Taken together, these three considerations yield
a basic concern for U.S. allies in Northeast Asia: An increasingly capable, global, and growing PLAN will continue to prioritize its interests in the East China Sea, South China Sea, and Taiwan Strait. This in turn will directly a ect the interests of Japan, Korea, and Taiwan.

For Japan, China’s new capabilities and force struc- ture will improve its ability to launch an amphibious landing on the Senkaku Islands or the broader Ryukyu Islands chain of which they are a part. Full carrier strike groups would improve China’s ability to sustain sea- and air-based operations and to support any amphibious operations. Similarly, improved submarine and antisub- marine-warfare capabilities would make it more di cult for the United States and Japan to establish sea control or retake the islands. In short, if China’s fungible blue- water eet were employed in near-seas operations over
An increasingly global PLAN that operates in the far seas likely will have consequences for U.S. allies in China’s
near seas.
disputed territory, this could meaningfully improve its chances of seizing sea control from Japan and the United States, at least for a time, thereby improving its odds of successfully executing a fait accompli.
The same capabilities could pose similar risks to South Korea. While Seoul and Beijing’s dispute over Socotra Rock (Ieodo) historically has had less escalation potential than the Senkaku Islands – in part because the rock itself is submerged – South Korean and Chinese shermen often clash in the Yellow Sea. If Sino-Korean relations were to degrade in the coming years, China’s improved
ability to establish sea control in this area could be of real concern. If China and South Korea nd themselves in an increasingly fraught relationship – perhaps over North Korea – the PLAN’s ability to sustain major naval opera- tions near the Peninsula will worry Seoul.
As ever, China’s blue-water capability may have the most profound implications for Taiwan. An expedi- tionary amphibious capability – while not necessary
for a cross-Strait landing –certainly would improve China’s capabilities in a Taiwan contingency. Many of
its other investments, from guided-missile destroyers
to submarines and eet defenses, would be a boon in its quest to establish sea control. Indeed, PLA analysts have every reason to believe that Taiwan will remain China’s primary naval concern, and one must expect that if a Taiwan crisis or contingency is in the o ng, the PLAN will have the full spectrum of necessary capabilities on hand. Far-seas operations surely will take a back seat in a Taiwan contingency, and far-seas assets undoubtedly will be directed toward the Taiwan Strait.

U.S. allies and partners recognize that the United States still possesses the world’s leading navy in quanti- tative and qualitative terms, but they also are well aware that the American quantitative edge is quickly eroding and that qualitative advantages may wane within a
China’s blue-water capability may have the most profound implications for Taiwan.
decade. These trends will make it increasingly di cult for the United States to persuade allies that its forward presence is superior to China’s growing capabilities for near-seas active defense.
As allied anxieties rise in the period ahead, it will be
all the more important for the United States to reassure
its security partners in several ways. The United States will need to bolster and diversify its forward-deployed presence; increase its naval investments; strengthen
allied coordination on development, procurement, and operational decisions; and consult regularly with its allies and partners about a wide range of issues. It also will be important to continue encouraging these same allies and partners to acquire capabilities necessary to make Chinese pursuit of a
fait accompli costly. Even if American security partners rely on U.S. support for a protracted campaign, they should be able independently to signal to China that a short, sharp, near-seas campaign will come at a very high initial cost, and the United States should assist them in determining how best to do impose such costs.
Even as China’s far-seas capabilities grow, U.S. allies and partners also have certain geographic advantages they can apply near China’s coasts. A strategy in which these allies work in concert with the United States to wield aspects
of Chinese A2/AD against a more global PLAN may prove plausible in addressing some of the region’s territorial disputes, especially given the unique geography of China’s near seas. These techniques also will directly a ect China’s far-seas campaigns.
Near-Seas Geography, Far-Seas Consequences
Just as China’s far-seas capabilities may have certain consequences for near-seas contingencies, so too do the near seas directly a ect China’s ability to reach the far seas. In more speci c terms, the PLAN’s blue-water ambi- tions are constrained in part by geography. Unlike Japan and the United States, both of which have major naval bases that are fully open to the Paci c Ocean, all of the PLAN bases are located in the semi-closed waters of the East and South China Seas.
China’s First and Second Island Chains – with
their various islands, archipelagic nations, and choke points – impinge upon China’s “two ocean” strategy. For the PLAN and the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) to operate outside of their AORs and proceed into the Paci c or Indian Oceans, their units must pass through a number of choke points, some of which are controlled by U.S. allies. These include Japan’s south- western islands chain, the waters between Taiwan and the Philippines, the waters between the Philippines and Indonesia, and of course the Malacca, Sunda,
and Lombok straits.

Although China’s ability to enter and exit these choke points remains unimpeded during peace time, during a con ict it is possible that U.S. allies may cut o China’s access to them. Some Japanese strategists have suggested Japan’s Self-Defense Forces prioritize a denial capability over the Miyako Strait and even prepare to operate in the Bashi Channel between Taiwan and the Philippines.60 Australian forces presumably could control access near the Indonesian archipelagos. U.S. forces working in concert with these allies also could seek to prevent the PLAN from entering the high seas. China no doubt fears the possibility that the United States, perhaps in concert with these allies, would implement a comprehensive strategy to exploit
the region’s geography and interfere with China’s far-seas access.61 Such a strategy could help deter Chinese aggres- sion and adventurism and secure allied interests in a crisis, but it also may encourage China to probe these waters more aggressively – setting up the growing possibility of an accident or misunderstanding with U.S. or allied vessels.
Beyond the San Hai: The Challenge of China’s Blue-Water Navy Potential Choke Points for China’s Two Ocean Strategy

Thailand Cambodia
South China Sea
Northern Mariana Islands
Malacca Strait
Sunda Strait
Papua New Guinea
N.Korea S.Korea
East China Sea
Miyako Strait
Bashi Channel
Celebes Sea
Lombok Strait
China's two-ocean strategy aims to surmount the constraining e ects of geographical choke points, but choke points may still be part of U.S. and allied strategic responses.
Indeed, the long-term viability of this strategy
also may be called into question if China success- fully leverages its naval capabilities to reshape the strategic and political landscape of the near seas. China fully recognizes that free access through Asia’s choke points is not guaranteed in a con ict scenario, and it can take a variety of measures to prepare
for this possibility.

First, through regularized deployments and exer- cises in or near Asia’s crucial choke points, China can gradually acquire su cient presence and experience
to preempt or defeat attempts to deny China access
to the Paci c and Indian Oceans. The PLAN has been actively conducting various joint exercises, including some that have crossed Japan’s Ryukyu Islands and the Miyako Strait – one of the many choke points that Japan

in uences. China also has dispatched various vessels
and aircraft to the Bashi Channel.
62 A particularly telling exercise took place in late 2016 and early 2017, when the PLAN deployed an aircraft carrier battle group that passed through several of these choke points: Japan’s Ryukyu Islands chain, the Bashi Strait, the South China Sea, and the Taiwan Strait. These e orts, which will become more common and regularized in the future as China’s blue- water capabilities mature, will allow the PLAN e ectively to increase the space for tolerated operations in these choke points and to gain experience and presence useful in contesting them.63
Second, Beijing gradually may consolidate its control over some of the region’s geographic features in ways that allow it to break out of its near seas and into the far seas. Beijing’s salami-slicing tactics in the South China Sea,
and its construction of airstrips on some of the features in those waters, are examples of such methods. The capabil- ities gap between Chinese forces in the South China Sea are signi cant, and the possibility of other claimant states cooperating together is vanishingly small given the political realities of the region. For these reasons, if China continues its current pace of militarization on the seven Spratly Islands, Beijing will overwhelm the naval capabilities of each country in the area. If these e orts are successful, then by 2030 China will have the ability to project across the South China Sea, establishing sea control within the First Island Chain and placing the Malacca, Sunda, and Lombok Straits within short range of its aircraft.

Third, China’s political and economic means also can
be used to open strategic space. By winning support from Southeast Asian governments such as the Philippines – where China has essentially ignored President Rodrigo Duterte’s deadly anti-drug campaign and promised $24 billion in investment in exchange for more favorable treat- ment in the South China Sea – China is able to open up new channels to blue waters.
64 The current political climate within the United States has only further stoked fears about U.S. commitment to the region, thereby enhancing China’s ability to nd political solutions to geostrategic problems.
Through this combination of methods, China may be able to challenge allied advantages over the strategic geography of the near seas. As China acquires blue- water naval capabilities and prosecutes its interests throughout the Indian Ocean, the contest over these islands and choke points will become far more signi cant and complicated, and coordination and collaboration between the United States and its allies and partners will become increasingly important.
China has own its H-6 bomber, shown here, and other aircraft through the Miyako Strait, a vital choke point in the East China Sea. (Government of Japan/Creative Commons Attribution License)
U.S. Allies and the Far Seas
The near seas will not be the only focus of Asia’s major navies. As China’s PLAN extends its reach, other Asian navies also may begin to look to the blue waters. Some of the region’s most consequential navies, including India’s and Australia’s, already have signi cant experi- ence operating in the Indian Ocean and will continue to invest in these capabilities. Others, like Japan’s naval forces, have little blue-water experience aside from anti-piracy operations.
Japan’s response to China’s blue-water navy is worth particularly close consideration. Its acquisition of distant blue-water capabilities could dramatically alter both the East Asian and larger Indian Ocean strategic landscapes. Importantly, Japan has strong interests in protecting distant oil ows and in attending to territorial disputes closer to home. With a large and technologically sophisti- cated economy, it conceivably could embark on relatively quick naval expansion. While Japan might possess the technical and economic base for such projects, however, its constitution, as well popular support for paci sm, together constrain Japan’s ability to unabashedly pursue such a course. In the long run, these constraints gradu- ally may weaken, and long before they do, Japan likely will gradually alter its military capabilities to prepare for more distant missions.
For Japan, one potentially troubling scenario that could trigger a sharp shift in its maritime strategy is the prospect of reduced U.S. in uence in the Middle East and broader IOR at a time of growing Chinese blue-water capabilities. Speci cally, if the United States continues
Beyond the San Hai: The Challenge of China’s Blue-Water Navy
Gwadar Port is currently under construction with signi cant Chinese investment. (J. Patrick Fischer/GNU Free Documentation License)
to turn inward, or if Gulf states refuse to support the U.S. presence in the region – all while China begins to pursue a more permanent naval presence through regional facilities such as the Pakistani port of Gwadar – Japan will feel its energy supplies from the Middle East could be at risk. The prospect that an adversarial China could exert signi cant in uence over the SLOCs that sustain Japan’s economy is unacceptable to Japanese leaders, and they may then feel obliged to reconsider their national and military strategies as well as the credibility of existing security alliance and cooperation networks. Even absent such a scenario, joint U.S.-China operations to secure these energy SLOCs that do not meaningfully include other Asian states – especially Japan, India, or Australia – also could trigger a Japanese strategic shift.
Although U.S. allies are concerned about the ability
of the United States to deter Chinese expansion both in the near seas and across the Indian Ocean, China’s naval overhaul has engendered some meaningful changes in U.S. Navy plans and procurement that should provide some reassurance to those allies. Washington has renewed its focus on high-end capabilities. It also has sent B-1, B-2, and B-52 bombers on a rotational basis.
The United States also has begun to take interest in capability areas on which it previously did not focus much, including longer-range carrier-based aircraft to allow stando operations and munitions, destroyers equipped with air and missile defense radar, and antiship cruise and ballistic missiles. It also is investing in attack submarines and bolstering its antisubmarine-warfare operations.66 Even with these changes, however, analysts project that China will be able to challenge the United States for sea control in just a matter of years. Whether this challenge occurs and how precisely it unfolds will be profoundly shaped by the interaction between Chinese and American competitive strategies, technological inno- vation, and military investments. The next chapter seeks to address a particularly important and ill-understood component of this unfolding naval rivalry – the role of cyber weapons and vulnerabilities.
Space, Missile, and Cyber-Space Technologies
25 25
Beyond the San Hai: The Challenge of China’s Blue-Water Navy
A s with the U.S. Navy, the e ectiveness of China’s increasingly blue-water force will depend on
a network of enabling and force-multiplying

systems. Fundamentally, these revolve around the col- lection and exploitation of information – a surveillance, reconnaissance, and strike network able to pair robust data with precise kinetic capabilities. The United States’ own system of satellites, sensors, and communications nodes have provided it with the unrivaled domain aware- ness and precision missile capabilities necessary to operate e ectively at sea and in the air far from home.
In seeking asymmetric advantages to potentially contest American force projection, China has invested simultaneously in its own such network and associated missile technologies while also developing capabilities to disrupt the United States’. This transition toward what is sometimes called “informationized” warfare is a dou- ble-edged sword, however. Investments in such a system stand to signi cantly improve the capabilities of China’s blue-water navy – while also opening it up to the same vulnerabilities it wishes to exploit against the United States. Further, while the United States’ surveillance, reconnaissance, and strike network is a truly global one, a competing Chinese network likely would still be limited to its near-abroad for the foreseeable future. China’s blue-water navy has bene ted and will continue to bene t signi cantly from this network, but as Beijing’s naval ambitions take it beyond the First Island Chain – and the sensors and missiles buttressing its strength therein – it will face the same weaknesses of the American network but with added geographic constraints.
Augmenting Awareness from Orbit
The 1996 Taiwan Strait Crisis was a catalyzing event
for Beijing’s conceptions of its critical capabilities. The United States was able to disrupt Chinese attempts to coerce Taiwan with a large display of naval force near the strait, including two aircraft carrier battle groups. Worse, of the Chinese missile tests that drove the crisis, several reportedly failed – suspected to be a result of the United States cutting o their access to commercial GPS feeds.
Since then, Beijing has invested heavily in the technol- ogies and capabilities necessary not only to contest U.S. force projection, but also to operate independently of American information feeds.
If it is to operate over long distances, China’s navy will depend on sophisticated surveillance, strike, and recon- naissance networks. China need not match the United States’ global network, but by focusing the development of such awareness and data integration on a more limited, geographically relevant area, China plausibly could
achieve the near-peer capabilities necessary to e ectively mount the aforementioned A2/AD strategy to contest American access. Many of the technologies most asso- ciated with A2/AD, such as precise ballistic and cruise missiles, depend on a complex, exquisitely sensor-de- pendent kill chain from target detection to “munition delivery, weapon guidance, damage assessment, and potential restrike.” 68 A truly blue-water Chinese navy necessarily will depend on these A2/AD technologies and strategies to level the playing eld with the U.S.
Navy and plausibly threaten to match it should any con ict break out.
To achieve this level of required surveillance delity, communication, and data transmission, Beijing has pursued a systematic satellite infrastructure expansion program. The United States today has approximately 576 satellites, and Russia 140; just since 2000, the number of satellites operated by China has grown from 10 to 181.69
These include its fast-growing Beidou network, a navigation system meant to be an alternative to the U.S.-operated GPS network. While this has been an impressive pace of expansion, such a tempo will be required for China to plausibly achieve even a geograph- ically limited surveillance, strike, and reconnaissance network necessary to challenge regional U.S. access. The O ce of Naval Intelligence calculates that China’s “near seas” is a vast area encompassing 875,000 square nautical miles of water and airspace, which grows by another 1.5 million if considering the Philippine Sea, which is likely to play a role in any potential confrontation over the South China Sea or Taiwan.70
Chinese GPS-alternative Beidou satellite navigation system coverage as of 2012. (Daveduv/Creative Commons Attribution License)
Applying Augmented Awareness:
The PLA Rocket Forces
While China likely still has work ahead of it before its regional awareness will be truly comparable to that
of the United States’, these sensor networks, led by space-based surveillance and communication, already have enabled the elevation of capabilities that would
be necessary for a true A2/AD strategy – most notably missile technologies. As the United States and its allies grapple with the emerging challenges posed by China’s growing naval strategies and force structure, so too must they contemplate the force-multiplying e ects that the PLA Rocket Force may have, particularly when it comes to near-seas missions. This missile force has grown considerably in recent years and now consists of about 100,000 personnel, and in December 2015 was elevated to a status coequal to that of China’s Navy, Army, and Air Force

A 2015 RAND study estimated that as of this year, China potentially could eld about 1,200 conventionally armed short-range ballistic missiles (SRBMs, with a range of about 600-800 km), 108-to-274 MRBMs (with
a range of 1000 to 1500+ km), an unknown number of conventional IRBMs (with a range of about 5,000 km), and 450–1,250 land attack cruise missiles (LACMs – ground-launched or delivered by bombers with a range of 1500+ km). RAND also estimates that improvements in the accuracy of China’s ballistic missiles may allow them to strike xed targets in a matter of minutes with an accuracy of a few meters.
71 RAND assesses that the net result is that key U.S. facilities throughout Japan already may be within range of thousands of di cult-to-stop advanced ballistic and cruise missiles, and even U.S. bases on the island of Guam could be within range of
a smaller number of missiles (See map of PLA Rocket Force Missile Range vs. U.S. Bases in Asia).
72 These ranges are highly signi cant because they cover most of the First and Second Island Chains – the same area to which China’s near-seas naval missions apply, and the same waters that increasingly will be cut by China’s blue-water naval capabilities in the coming decade.
While China likely still has work ahead of it before its regional awareness can rival the United States’, these sensor networks, led by space-based surveillance and communication, already have enabled technologies that would be necessary for a true A2/AD strategy. China has increased its reliance on antiship ballistic missiles in the form of its DF-21D and DF-26. To make these systems reliable in wartime conditions, China needs to improve its targeting, image processing, navigation, and commu- nication technologies. Nonetheless, the development of these weapons has prompted debate over the future of fundamental American naval doctrines.73
Gathering Information – and Denying it to Others
In building the precise information gathering and transmission network necessary to support its blue- water navy, Beijing also has recognized the importance of information denial. Hoping to achieve “information superiority” in any potential con ict, China has been working to develop a variety of technologies designed to damage U.S. tools for information collection, to interdict its transmission, or to sabotage its interpretation.
Most visibly, China has invested in a variety of anti- satellite weapons (ASATs). These include direct-ascent weapons, or missiles designed to kinetically strike and destroy orbiting satellites; directed-energy weapons, which can “dazzle” or disable satellite sensors; electro- magnetic jamming, to prevent proper transmission of data to or from satellites; and it is strongly suspected that China has been testing a sort of “satellite grabber,” or a spacecraft with a robotic arm designed to maneuver alongside other satellites, seize them, and disable or pull them out of orbit.74 These ASAT weapons are seen by China as a key component of its A2/AD strategy – and, consequently, its ability to eld a blue-water navy – because of the United States’ disproportionate reliance on space-based surveillance and communications.
Less visibly, Beijing also has worked toward devel- oping a signi cant cyber warfare capability. These capabilities hold the potential to render the data gathered by the United States’ global surveillance, recon- naissance, and strike network inaccessible, unreliable, or insecure without ever physically damaging the sensors on which it relies. Core U.S. military logistics functions today are built around software products that, pres- ently or in some part of its development life cycle, are connected to the Internet and consequently are vulner- able to attack. Command and control, eet positioning, and even foundational munitions targeting share these vulnerabilities, and the avenues for attack are numerous. The Department of Defense is estimated to have 15,000
5,400–13,000+ km
1,500+ km
300–1,000 km
1,500+ km
Beyond the San Hai: The Challenge of China’s Blue-Water Navy
computer networks across 4,000 global installations, many of which have been compromised by internal red teams charged with seeking their vulnerabilities – to say nothing of the civilian networks over which many of the military’s assets (including satellites) are developed.75
Core U.S. military logistics functions today are built around software products that, presently or in some part of
its development life cycle, are connected to the Internet and consequently are vulnerable to attack.
A Double-Edged Sword
As China’s military adopts “informationized” warfare capabilities alongside its blue-water navy, Beijing will be increasingly well equipped to potentially deny the United States access to its near seas. At the same time, however, China will be opening itself up to the same vulnerabilities it is preparing to exploit in any potential con ict with the United States. The antiship ballistic missiles designed
to counter U.S. aircraft carriers, without advanced targeting, image processing, and data transmission facilitated by a reliable space-based satellite infrastruc- ture, potentially could be disabled by the rival network backing the targeted aircraft carriers. Further, China’s investments in land-based missiles as a force multiplier for its blue-water navy already has prompted the United States and its allies to consider ghting re with re. Japan has practiced deploying shore-based antiship cruise missiles along its Ryuku Islands, and proponents of “archipelagic defense” advocate for placing land units with mobile missile batteries throughout the First Island Chain.76 Inside its near seas, China’s navy could become just as vulnerable as the United States’ to antiship missile barrages, and beyond the rst island chain Beijing’s blue- water force would be without its missile force multiplier and guided by a much less robust surveillance, reconnais- sance, and strike network than when closer to home.
In addition to a possible conventional missile race, some of the advanced capabilities China is pursuing, especially antisatellite weapons, will pose important questions for international norms, strategic stability, and second-order e ects. Weapons that physically damage or destroy satellites, especially kinetic weapons, can create dangerous orbital debris. This debris not only would be self-defeating, in posing a threat to the attacker’s own
satellite infrastructure, but would cause lasting damage to anyones ability to exploit space.77 Cyber attacks, with ambiguous attribution and low visibility, can incen- tivize rst strikes and be destabilizing. Indeed, the naval domain is one where rst-mover advantages are already steep, and the o ensive nature of cyber capabilities and their asymmetrically damaging threat to the United States will do little to stabilize maritime competition
in the Asia-Paci c. These threats are being mitigated by U.S. e orts to strengthen network resilience, as
well as developing doctrine for its degradation or even absence. U.S. forces, especially its navy, must train and develop operational concepts under the expectation of degraded network connectivity. At the same time, the Pentagon should develop “thin line” redundant backup technologies – or even o -network, ad hoc solutions for distributed forces already in the eld.
Critically, however, the United States and China must work to develop norms against self-defeating, destabilizing, or enduringly damaging con ict in space and cyberspace.
page30image30072 page30image30232
Japanese sailors on the JS Bungo practice loading dummy mines during the 2012 RIMPAC exercise. (New Zealand Defense Force/ Creative Commons Attribution License)
PLA Rocket Force Missile Range vs. U.S. Bases in Asia93

PLA Rocket Force missiles, ranging from SRBMs to IRBMs, are capable of striking U.S. bases in Asia.
SRBMs 600–800 km
MRBMs 1,000–1,500 km
IRBMs 5,000 km
Conclusions and Recommendations
A merican interests in an open, stable, and democratic Asia-Paci c region have remained remarkably durable throughout the post–World
War II era. Yet as China’s power expands beyond its near seas and out to the Paci c and Indian Oceans, there are serious questions about how the United States should adjust its strategy for preserving a favorable regional order and securing its national interests.
The loss of U.S. global maritime dominance would put at risk fundamental national security interests. In the Indo-Paci c region, it would call into question the ability of the United States to command the o shore lines of communications, and thereby execute operational plans to counter provocation and proliferation, preserve the independence of democratic allies and partners, ensure the free ow of commerce, and keep potential adver- saries on their back foot and far from U.S. shores.
During his con rmation hearing to become Secretary of Defense, General James Mattis indicated that the United States needed to strengthen defense against resurgent major power challenges as well as terrorism. In response to Senator John McCain’s question about
the status of the postwar international order, General Mattis stated, “I think [the international order] is under the biggest attack since World War II, that is from Russia, from terrorist groups and with what China is doing in the South China Sea.” The general added, “I think deterrence is critical and that requires the strongest military.”
The secretary’s emphasis on deterrence is an indicator there is a renewed commitment to this principle that long has guided U.S. foreign and defense policies over much of the past century. It is from this foundation the following discussion of how the U.S. and allies should deal with a “risen,” not “rising,” China.
The secretary’s emphasis on deterrence is an indicator there is a renewed commitment to this principle that long has guided U.S. foreign and defense policies over much of the past century.
The underlying premise is that China’s unilateral expansion into and through the maritime territory of the First Island Chain over the past several years has altered the strategic balance of power across the Indo- Paci c region. In addition to the building of a modern blue-water navy, the creation of “New Spratly Islands” in the South China Sea, along with the declaration of an Air
Defense Identi cation Zone in the East China Sea, claims of sovereignty over the Senkaku Islands (Diaoyutai to the Chinese), as well as unprecedented and increasing naval operations into the Western Paci c, South Paci c, Indian Ocean, Gulf of Aden, and into the Mediterranean and Baltic Seas are empirical indicators of China’s future intentions and actions on the global stage for the remainder of the rst half of the 21st century.
These empirical indicators run counter to the pledge by China’s leaders of their commitment to pursue a peaceful rise, one that is in “harmony” with the rest of Asia and the world. By their actions and words, China’s expansionism has challenged the postwar norms of international behavior and, more importantly, has disrupted the peace and stability the region has enjoyed over the past 70 years.
While Beijing wishes to achieve its strategic aims without ring a shot, as done at Scarborough Shoal in 2012 and in the Spratly Islands from 2012 to the present, it also seems apparent that China is preparing to use military force to consolidate control over the remaining portion of their perceived territory, much of it in the maritime domain. The steady acquisition of a blue-water navy and a two-ocean strategy raises questions about what the United States and allies can and should do in response – not to contain China, but to protect vital national interests and prevent aggression.
Recommendations for the United States
The new administration must take seriously the notion that China already has risen, and that the trajectory of its naval development is both rapid and steady. Without a serious e ort to engage this challenge in the next four years, the United States and its allies increasingly will nd themselves at local disadvantages with respect to the PLAN. We o er several recommendations:
First and foremost, there should be, as James Holmes recently wrote, a fundamental transformation in the “culture” of how we deal with China, one that acknowl- edges that the biggest military threat to our national security interest, and those of our allies, comes from the sea. While Professor Holmes was writing to the U.S. Navy leadership, the “cultural” change being recommended is a national issue, one that must be driven from the top down – from the president. This will necessarily require the Department of Defense to return to a two-major-contingency operations approach to national security planning and acquisition. Fundamental to this approach is increased investment in American maritime power, which has received insu cient attention in recent decades.
Beyond the San Hai: The Challenge of China’s Blue-Water Navy
Changing the U.S. mindset means avoiding the assumption that past success in maritime Asia is a safe basis for future planning. If the United States and its allies and partners are to continue to preserve a favorable regional maritime order, then it will to require a more focused prioritization of ends and means.
A new culture of taking China seriously also will be tested on a periodic basis by the words and actions taken or not taken to uphold the rule of law, signal an attitude of both cooperation and strength, and reassure allies and partners. The Trump administration should debate whether U.S.-China relations have entered a new period, one that is fundamentally di erent even from “new type of great power relationship” rst asserted by President Xi. Given the dramatic changes that have occurred since 1979, America must now assert its own core interests rmly. This would mean more active contestation of China’s agrant disregard of the rule of law, including its response to the July 2016 Arbitration Panel ruling on the South China Sea.
The United States should also change its approach
to U.S. military operations in the region so that it can better address the ways in which China has manipulated the balance of risk. China’s risk-acceptant behavior, combined with widespread U.S. preoccupation with whether even routine actions in the region should be considered provocative, has given Beijing strategic advantage and threatens to make U.S. presence in the region subject to Beijing’s invitation. To address this dynamic, the U.S. should stop pre-announcing Freedom

This will necessarily require the Department of Defense to return to a two-major-contingency operations approach to
national security planning and acquisition.
of Navigation Operations and should not be afraid to conduct carrier operations anywhere within the First Island Chain. In fact, the new administration should consider increases to U.S. presence in the South China Sea with the adoption of a permanent 1.0 U.S. Navy warship presence in the South China Sea.81
With respect to Taiwan, President Donald Trump brie y irted with the idea of recalibrating the long- standing “One China Policy.” He has since wisely a rmed the continuation of that policy in conversations with President Xi Jinping.82 Even so, the administration
may want to consider new ideas for advancing security within the constraints of that framework. For instance, the notion that U.S. warships cannot make the occasional port call in Taiwan needs to be honestly examined, discussed with friends in Taiwan, and if deemed appropriate, then executed without fanfare or advance noti cation. The message to China should be that freedom of navigation and free access to ports is a core U.S. interest and that the United States is not going to be constrained by Beijing’s threats – particularly because rapidly growing PLAN capa- bilities may have the most serious implications for Taiwan.
The new administration should proclaim its commit- ment to a forward-deployed presence, especially for U.S. naval forces. Not only is this necessary for bolstering the agging con dence of U.S. allies, it also will send a clear and unambiguous statement to China. In addition to the current forward-deployed force structure, new options also can range from homeporting a second U.S. Navy aircraft carrier in Guam to homeporting ships in South Korea. A forward-deployed presence in East Asia also will provide bene ts in the Indian Ocean. Great powers appear only rarely to expand abroad if they are vulnerable in their immediate environs; indeed, it makes no sense for China to contest Indian Ocean SLOCs if it cannot at least contest air and naval superiority in regions such as the South China Sea.83
The United States should bolster maritime domain awareness and conduct more robust and public maritime intelligence operations. While much progress has been made in improving U.S. DoD Title 10 collection capabilities in the Indo-Asia Paci c region, as with the introduction
of the P-8 aircraft, the U.S. has not reported on China’s actions in the maritime domain. For instance, during the recent deployment of China’s aircraft carrier
Liaoning, U.S. PACOM did not provide unclassi ed pictures of China’s inaugural carrier ight operations in the deep blue sea, even though it is likely to have conducted reconnaissance. This same reluctance also characterized the U.S. approach as China built seven new arti cial islands in the South China Sea. The United States should be more willing to share
and publicize such materials; sharing facts about Chinese activities at sea is smart diplomacy. Moreover, making such information widely available would help counter spurious Chinese narratives of American actions as being the root cause of instability in the Western Paci c. Both outcomes are in U.S. national interests.

China likely will begin ballistic missile submarine (SSBN) patrols this year, and that in turn requires that the U.S. Navy adopt a “hold at risk” strategy for China’s patrolling SSBNs. Hold at risk means that every time a PLAN bal- listic missile submarine departs on a strategic nuclear patrol, a U.S. Navy attack submarine will be there to follow the Chinese SSBN, ready to sink them if they ever attempt to launch a nuclear-tipped ballistic missile toward U.S. shores. The reality is that Beijing’s SSBN’s now have the capability to range all of the United States, including
the nation’s capital.
American blue-water naval and joint force capabilities must be of su cient size and quality to compete with China’s naval expansion. At a minimum, this means that the U.S. armed forces, in tandem with allies, would have to nd a way to check China from dominating the near seas bounded by the First Island Chain, and be able to hold the choke points leading out to the Indian and Western Paci c Oceans.
is credible and versatile. As China’s developing rocket force suggests, air and ground forces are now a critical part of maritime security.
The Pentagon must maintain energetic e orts to counter China’s A2/AD capabilities and approaches. The Third O set remains a worthwhile initiative, regardless of whether or not its keeps its title, and the introduction
of disruptive technologies, such as breakthroughts in electronic manuever warfare, may be able to truly change the trajectories described in this report.
86 Most Third O set technologies will not be available until well into the 2030s, however, after China has obtained many of the trappings of its blue-water force structure. As a result, defense planners also must continue to invest in and eld existing platforms that can counter China in the near seas without major innovation – namely, stando power pro- jection platforms and precision munitions that can allow the United States and its allies to pursue A2/AD capa- bilities of their own within the First Island Chain. Japan already is making investments to this e ect, including
At a minimum, this means that the U.S. armed forces, in tandem with allies, would have to nd a way to check China from dominating the near seas bounded by the First Island Chain, and be able to hold the choke points leading out to the Indian and Western Paci c Oceans.
This defensive approach is necessary if the United States
is to credibly uphold its security guarantees, but it will be increasingly di cult to accomplish as China’s capabilities grow. This geostrategic maritime capability would have
to retain qualitative edges in key areas such as submarine warfare. It would have to depend on an industrial base necessary to sustain and maintain su cient numbers of qualitatively superior forces necessary to counter a techno- logical peer with greater number of forces.

The U.S. Navy is not adequately sized or out tted to meet U.S. national security requirements in the Indian and Paci c Oceans. With some forecasts predicting that the size of the PLAN may approach 500 ships and submarines by 2030, the U.S. Navy must improve qualitatively and quantitatively if it is to provide a credible deterrent force that can ght and win at sea – certainly in the direction
of 350 ships.
85 Of course, it is not just the Navy but also
the requisite Marine, Air Force, and Army capabilities
that will be essential to a larger joint force capability that

antiship surface missiles. Additionally, the United States must continue to innovate in the area of operational concepts, so that it and its allies can hope to prevail in near-seas con icts using the capabilities they already have. It also must avoid seeking innovative defense acqui- sition in isolation from more dynamic planning scenarios that would challenge expedient assumptions such as only needing to ght short, sharp wars.
Working with Allies and Partners
China’s blue-water navy development presents a struc- tural challenge for the United States and its closest
allies. Barring a catastrophic economic or political
event, it is unlikely to deviate from the course outlined
in this report. Even if the United States moves toward a 350-ship navy and continues to invest in sea control, the United States alone will unable to completely o set these developments. The prospect that China will employ its far-seas navy for near-seas purposes within the First

Beyond the San Hai: The Challenge of China’s Blue-Water Navy
Island Chain only underscores the importance of close alliance consultation, so that allies can contingency plan and burden share most e ectively. If the United States fails to keep its allies in the fold as China continues its naval buildup, this assuredly will result in intense aban- donment anxieties. This in turn may inspire partners to procure duplicative, redundant capabilities to defend themselves, encourage them to pursue defense strategies that may be inimical to U.S. interests, and produce serious major power instability in a crisis or lower-level skirmish.
It also is equally important for close treaty partners to make and sustain earnest e orts to contribute to their defense in these areas. Particularly where Japan’s and South Korea’s territorial and maritime claims are con- cerned, these are ashpoints that inherently hold higher value for Tokyo and Seoul than they for their senior security partner. To deter naval incursions, Japan and South Korea will need to demonstrate that they are able to mount a credible response to a Chinese fait accompli. Even if both security partners would need to rely on
U.S. support in a protracted campaign, they nonetheless should be able to signal to China that a short, sharp, near- seas campaign will come at a very high cost. Allies will send the most e ective signals with their naval expansion, however, if they coordinate closely with the United States as they make development, procurement, and operational decisions. Such coordination ensures that these capabili- ties can be made mutually reinforcing.

U.S. Asia policy always has included “inside-out” and “outside-in” components. The former refers to engaging China to convince it that, while the United States will stand up for its values and interests, it does not intend
to fundamentally undermine the Communist Party and wants a constructive relationship. The latter requires that the United States work with allies and partners to both shape China’s choices and assure Beijing that the United States will stand up for stability and a rules-based order. Washington needs to replicate this approach in the IOR. It should deepen U.S.-China dialogue on Indian Ocean issues both at the strategic and especially the operational level, for instance, between U.S. CENTCOM and Chinese task force commanders as well as embassies throughout the region. At the same time, the United States should institute China-focused dialogues with regional allies and partners, especially key strategic players such as

India, Israel, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and NATO partners. Middle Eastern and African partners may be somewhat more willing than Asian countries to bandwagon with Beijing, as it does not represent a proximate territo- rial threat. Expanded dialogue will allow the United States to gather information about regional responses to Chinese expansion and send its own messages about how to respond to Beijing.
The growth of Chinese naval power creates new capability and capacity requirements not only in the Asia-Paci c, but also potentially in the Indian Ocean as well, to the extent that an expeditionary PLA may decrease U.S. freedom of action in that region. Moreover, the United States should upgrade current access agreements in places like Diego Garcia and study the feasibility of new rotational arrangements in Australia’s Cocos Islands and Christmas Island; India’s Andaman and Nicobar Islands; the United Kingdom’s Diego Garcia; and the Maldives,
the Seychelles, and Comoros.87
At the end of the Obama administration, Secretary of Defense Ash Carter began to advocate a “Principled Security Network” of states in Asia. The concept was never well de ned, but touched upon a fundamentally important source of strength for the United States in the region: the fact that its closest security allies were natu- rally increasing their ties amongst each other. American allies in Asia are now more militarily capable than they ever have been, and several are increasingly taking on defense leadership roles in the region. By encouraging stronger ties among its security partners through mul- tilateral exercises and dialogues – even when these do
not include the United States – Washington gains the ability to strengthen the region’s readiness at a reasonable cost. This is particularly true of two of its closest allies, Australia and Japan, which may be especially able to work with other regional states such as Vietnam and India.

With due respect for India’s foreign policy traditions
and central role in the Indian Ocean region, the United States should make every e ort to cooperate with New Delhi in managing the westward expansion of Chinese power. A close relationship with India will balance China where necessary, but also will enable dual deterrence, whereby Washington can help persuade India to accept positive Chinese security contributions where they are

forthcoming and dampen competition between the two Asian giants. The Trump administration should build
on achievements of the Bush and Obama eras, as well as Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s receptivity to maritime cooperation, by pushing for rapid conclusion of information-sharing agreements to enable exchange of intelligence on Chinese ship and submarine activities.
88 Washington also should encourage New Delhi to develop tight relationships with other U.S. allies, as India cur- rently is doing with Japan.89
An expeditionary PLA presents political and military wrinkles to operational plans and crisis responses that have not been seen since the Cold War, if ever. The defense establishment must make e orts to understand these new dynamics and adjust U.S. strategy accord- ingly. A campaign of net assessment and “Red Team” gaming should be adopted. Attention should be paid to how alliance management changes when an alternative security provider emerges, how interregional escala- tion dynamics are likely to play out at various levels
on the escalation ladder, and what would be the global economic consequences of a U.S.-China con ict that disrupts global energy and shipping ows.
China’s quest for blue-water naval capabilities does
not imply competition with the United States at every turn. If China is able to conduct noncombatant evacua- tion operations, secure the ow of natural resources, or contribute to humanitarian aid and disaster relief, the United States and its partners may see ample interest in collaborating with the PLAN around the world. By iden- tifying where it may be able to cooperate with China’s navy, the United States and its partners can attempt to bound the areas of competition. This, in turn, will allow Washington and its allies to direct naval resources where they are most needed, and to burden-share where and when this can be accomplished.

For the United States to channel China’s energies into constructive multilateral security cooperation, it must itself engage with and show its commitment to collec- tive processes. Thus, the United States should upgrade its participation in the Indian Ocean Rim Association, the East African Community, and the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation. Similarly, the United States should try to engage with the institutional
framework of the Belt and Road initiative. As the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank episode showed, Chinese initiatives will draw regional interest, and the United States can best in uence their evolution when it has a seat at the table.
The core argument of this report has been that China is decidedly transforming itself from a continental power with a focus on its near seas to a great maritime power with a two-ocean focus. China is looking beyond the san hai – the Yellow Sea, South China Sea, and East China Sea – and out toward the Paci c and Indian Oceans. Much of its naval transformation will be complete by 2030 and will directly a ect the interests of the United States and its allies and partners.
The report has traced the changing strategy, capabil- ities, and missions of China’s increasingly global navy. It has discussed how a blue-water PLAN will expand its presence into the Indian Ocean to secure the oil and commodities that ow across it to Chinese ports. It has argued that China’s far-seas missions will have near- seas implications for U.S. allies and partners, and that the island chains and choke points of these same near seas may reciprocally constrain China’s blue-water expansion. Finally, it discussed the future evolution of Sino-American naval competition, noting the linkages between cyber space and the blue waters.
A more global PLAN, one that will be capable of rivaling the United States in blue waters, soon will be a structural fact of world politics.
This report also o ered a series of recommendations for U.S. allies and partners. With respect to China, it suggested that the United States take seriously China’s maritime challenge, directly address China’s manipula- tion of the balance of risk, and nd areas of cooperation with a global PLAN. Regarding U.S. maritime power, it proposed that the United States invest more in its naval capabilities – especially in a 350-ship eet – and that
it strengthen the forward-deployed presence while diversifying it into the Indian Ocean. For U.S. allies, the report recommended not only the strengthening of U.S. naval capabilities and force posture, but also taking pains to regularly consult allies on U.S. policy and on Chinese behavior. Finally, it argued that the United States should join and strengthen multilateral institutions, including
Beyond the San Hai: The Challenge of China’s Blue-Water Navy
those launched by China, in order to channel the behavior of China and other potentially revisionist states into rules-based mechanisms.90
These recommendations are intended to provoke con- structive debate and policy discussion within the Trump administration, in Congress, and in allied and partner capitals. Opinions may vary on the appropriate course of action, but at the very least, all perspectives should begin from this common starting point: A more global PLAN, one that will be capable of rivaling the United States
in blue waters, soon will be a structural fact of world politics. This stark development will bring implications that are di cult to grasp, and more importantly, conse- quences that will be impossible to ignore. It is therefore all the more necessary for U.S. and allied planners to reckon with it now.
  1. Quoted in Srikanth Kondapalli, “China’s Naval Strategy,” Strategic Analysis, 23 no. 12 (April 2008).
  2. China’s Military Strategy (Beijing: State Council Informa- tion O ce, May 2015), document-chinas-military-strategy. These points are made by Bernard D. Cole, China’s Quest for Great Power: Ships, Oil, and Foreign Policy (Annapolis, MD: Naval Insti- tute Press, 2016), 5.
  3. Rear Admiral Michael McDevitt, USN (Ret.), Becoming a Great ‘Maritime Power:’ A Chinese Dream (Arlington, VA: Center for Naval Analyses, June 2016), 25.
  4. Andrew S. Erickson, ed., Chinese Naval Shipbuilding: An Ambitious and Uncertain Course (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 2016), 7.
  5. James E. Fanell and Scott Cheney-Peters, “Maximal Scenario: Expansive Naval Trajectory to ‘China’s Naval Dream,’” in Erickson, Chinese Naval Shipbuilding, 270.
  6. Ibid., 262
  7. McDevitt, Becoming a Great ‘Maritime Power,’ v.
  8. Christopher P. Carlson and Jack Bianchi, “Warfare Driv- ers: Mission Needs and the Impact of Ship Design,” in Erickson, Chinese Naval Shipbuilding, 21.
  9. Ibid.
  10. Bernard D. Cole, ”Re ections on China’s Maritime Strat- egy: Island Chains and the Classics,” Paper presented to the “Maritime Security, Seapower and Trade” Conference at the U.S. Naval War College, March 24–26, 2014, https:// Workshops/Maritime-Security,-Seapower,---Trade/Mari- time-Working-Papers/cole-island-chains.aspx.
  11. China’s Military Strategy (Beijing: State Council Informa- tion O ce, May 2015), document-chinas-military-strategy.
  12. Cole, China’s Quest for Great Power, 5.
  13. Fanell and Cheney-Peters, “Maximal Scenario,” 263.
  14. McDevitt, Becoming a Great ‘Maritime Power,’ ix.
  15. These ship counts include naval vessels only, and exclude other services’ and law enforcement vessels. See Conrad Chris Rahman, “People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) in Conrad Waters, ed., Navies in the 21st Century (Barnsley, UK: Seaforth Publishing, 2016); and James E. Fanell and Scott Cheney-Peters, “Defending Against a Chinese Navy of 500 Ships,” The Wall Street Journal, January 19, 2017, nese-navy-of-500-ships-1484848417.
16. Erickson, Chinese Naval Shipbuilding, 7.
17. McDevitt, “Medium Scenario: World’s Second ‘Far Seas’

Navy by 2020,” in Erickson, Chinese Naval Shipbuilding, 290. 18. McDevitt, Becoming a Great ‘Maritime Power,’ 38; McDevitt,
“Medium Scenario,” 284.
19. “PLA Navy Makes Preparations for Liaoning Aircraft Car- rier Formation,” December 13, 2012, Based on PLA Daily Report, defence-news/year-2012-news/december/788--pla-na- vy-makes-preparations-for-liaoning-aircraft-carrier-forma- tion-.html.
20. The PLA Navy: New Capabilities and Missions for the 21st Century (Washington: O ce of Naval Intelligence, 2015), 9–10.
21. McDevitt, Becoming a Great ‘Maritime Power,’ 42. 22. McDevitt, “Medium Scenario,” 285.
23. McDevitt,
Becoming a Great ‘Maritime Power,’ 43. 24. Erickson, Chinese Naval Shipbuilding, 8.
25. McDevitt, Becoming a Great ‘Maritime Power,’ 43.
26. Ibid., 32.
27. Jeremy Page, “China Builds First Overseas Military Out- post,” The Wall Street Journal, August 19, 2016, https://www. rst-overseas-military-out- post-1471622690.
28. Erickson, Chinese Naval Shipbuilding, 8, 13.
29. Ibid., 10; Michael S. Chase et. al., “China’s Incomplete Military Transformation: Assessing the Weaknesses of the People’s Liberation Army,” (RAND: Santa Monica, 2015), 87–101.
30. See, e.g., Dan Blumenthal and Derek Scissors, “China’s Great Stagnation,” The National Interest, October 17, 2016, http://
31. Cheryl Pellerin, “Carter Details Proposed 2017 Budget Ca- pabilities Improvements for Navy,” Department of Defense News, February 4, 2016, Article/Article/650254/carter-details-proposed-2017-bud- get-capability-improvements-for-navy.
32. McDevitt, Becoming a Great ‘Maritime Power,’ v.
33. McDevitt, Becoming a Great ‘Maritime Power,’ 22.
34. Ely Ratner et al., More Willing and Able: Charting Chi-
na’s International Security Activism
(CNAS, May 2015, ing-and-able-charting-chinas-international-security-activ- ism.
Beyond the San Hai: The Challenge of China’s Blue-Water Navy
  1. Elizabeth Wishnick, “Russia and China Go Sailing,” For- eignA, May 26, 2015, https://www.foreigna airs. com/articles/china/2015-05-26/russia-and-china-go- sailing; Franz-Stefan Gady, “Iran, China Sign Military Co- operation Agreement,” The Diplomat, November 15, 2016, tary-cooperation-agreement/.
  2. Zhang, “Observation and Outlook of China’s Recent Sea Power Strategy;” Lieutenant Commander Li Dong, PLAN, “A Preliminary Discussion of the Guiding Thought and Strategic Principles Behind China’s Overseas Military Presence Under New Conditions,” National Defense [Guofang] (June 2016), 21-24; Sun Degang, “An Analysis of the Conditions for Great Powers’ Overseas Military Basing and Deployment,” World Economics and Politics [Shijie jingji yu zhengzhi] (2015 no. 7), 40-67.
  3. See Ratner, More Willing and Able, for more detail on arms sales through 2015.
  4. For more on China’s maritime security contributions, see Andrew S. Erickson and Austin M. Strange, Six Years At Sea . . . and Counting: Gulf of Aden Anti-Piracy and China’s Maritime Commons Presence (Washington: The James- town Foundation, 2015), esp. chs. 5–6.
  5. Hong Liang, Cui Xu-tao, Yu Peng, “Thoughts on Build- ing Naval Equipment Support for Far Seas Naval Convoy Escort,” National Defense Science and Technology [Guo- fang keji], 35 no. 1 (February 2014), 18-20. The authors are from the PLAN’s Naval Aviation Engineering Institute
    in Shandong and the Naval Equipment Department in Beijing; State Council Information O ce, China’s Military Strategy.
  6. Mathieu Duchâtel and Alexandre Sheldon-Duplaix, “China’s ‘imminent issue:’ Djibouti and overseas military interests,” European Council on Foreign Relations, March 25, 2016, imminent_issue_djibouti_and_overseas_interests4069.
  7. Hong, “Thoughts on Building Naval Equipment Support.”
  8. There is some evidence of this thinking already occurring. For instance, in 2011, the then-Chief of the PLA General Sta argued that a permanent solution to Somali piracy required destroying their bases of support ashore. Erick- son and Strange, Six Years at Sea, 190.
  9. Ratner et al., More Willing and Able.
  10. For a useful typology of types of Chinese intervention, see Kristen Gunness and Oriana Skylar Mastro, “A Global People’s Liberation Army: Possibilities, Challenges, and Opportunities,” Asia Policy, no. 22 (July 2016), 131–55.
  11. Li, “A Preliminary Discussion,” 24.
  12. In the case of the October War in 1973, the Soviet Navy prevented the U.S. Navy from achieving sea control of the eastern Mediterranean, such that Washington believed
the U.S. Navy alone could not have prevented Soviet troops from deploying to Egypt. Instead, the United States escalated general readiness to DEFCON Three to deter the USSR. The Soviet Navy achieved this feat by surging more than 90 ships into the region. While such a massive deployment is unlikely, it is possible if China pursues
the 500-ship force forecast by Fanell and Cheney-Peters, mentioned above. See also Brian Larson, “Soviet Naval Responses to Crises,” in Bruce W. Watson and Susan M. Watson, eds.,
The Soviet Navy: Strengths and Liabilities (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1986), 255–64.
47. This section relies, inter alia, on O ce of Naval Intelli- gence, The PLA Navy.
48. See Erickson and Strange, Six Years at Sea, 99–103.
49 McDevitt, Becoming a Great ‘Maritime Power,’ 94.
50. Erickson, Chinese Naval Shipbuilding, 7, 12; McDevitt, “Medium Scenario,” 283.
51. Fanell and Cheney-Peters, ”Maximal Scenario,” 266.
52. McDevitt, “Medium Scenario,” 283.
53. U.S. government and private sector forecasts estimate that the percentage of imports in China’s crude oil con- sumption will grow from 59 percent in 2014 to roughly two-thirds to three-quarters by 2035. While it is trying to hedge against this vulnerability by importing more energy in overland pipelines from Russia and building a strategic petroleum reserve, for the foreseeable future China still will be largely dependent on Middle Eastern and Afri- can oil traveling across Indian Ocean sea lanes. Beyond energy, many of China’s imports of critical metals come from seaborne trade, and seaborne trade with countries west of the Malacca Strait comprises perhaps one third of China’s exports. See Elizabeth Rosenberg et al, The New Great Game, documents/CNASReport-CarnegieEnergy-FINAL.pdf. British Petroleum, “BP Energy Outlook 2035: Country and regional insights – China,” February 2015, http:// bp/pdf/Energy-economics/ energy-outlook-2015/Country_insights_China_2035.pdf.; and U.S. Energy Information Administration, “China Country Analysis Brief,” February 4, 2014. On metals, see Zhang Xiaodong, “Observation and Outlook of China’s Recent Sea Power Strategy: Starting from theand trade statistics roughly approximated from MIT’s Observatory of Economic Complexity website, using data from the
UN COMTRADE International Trade Statistics database, le/country/chn/.
54. The 2015 white paper, China’s Military Strategy, is instruc- tive: “With the growth of China’s national interests, its national security is more vulnerable to international and regional turmoil . . . and the security of overseas interests concerning energy and resources, strategic sea lines of communication (SLOCs), as well as institutions, person- nel and assets abroad, has become an imminent issue.”
  1. For more on the rhetoric behind the One Belt, One Road initiative and the reality of its investment patterns, see Christopher K. Johnson, “President Xi Jinping’s ‘Belt
    and Road’ Initiative: A Practical Reassessment of the Chinese Communist Party’s Roadmap for China’s Glob-
    al Resurgence” (CSIS, March 2016), https://csis-prod. son_PresidentXiJinping_Web.pdf; and Derek Scissors, “The Double-Edged Sword of China’s Global Investment Success” (American Enterprise Institute, January 2016), ble-Edged-Sword-of-China%E2%80%99s-Global-Invest- ment-Success.pdf.

  2. See the American Enterprise Institute’s “China Global Investment Tracker,” vestment-tracker/.
  3. Wang Yizhou, “An Upgraded Version of Chinese Diploma- cy: 7 Keys to the New Generation of Leaders’ Foreign Policy Strategy,” People’s Forum [Renmin Luntan], no. 2 February 2014, 22–24.
  4. Polling shows that Americans generally continue to favor continued U.S. global leadership but are skeptical about the use of force and generally want other countries to shoul- der more responsibility. “Public Uncertain, Divided, Over America’s Place in the World,” Pew Research Center, May 5, 2016, uncertain-divided-over-americas-place-in-the-world/.
  5. For an example of the latter, recall that U.S. and Chinese pressure both were key factors in the relatively peaceful secession of South Sudan from Sudan and in quelling the Darfur crisis. For extended arguments about why and how to enlist Chinese help in this fashion, see Gunness and Mastro, “A Global PLA;” and Thomas J. Christensen, The China Challenge: Shaping the Choices of a Rising Power (New York: W.W. Norton, 2014).
  6. Toshi Yoshihara, “Going Anti-Access at Sea: How Japan can Turn the Tables on China,” CNAS, September 2014, https:// time2_Yoshihara.pdf.
  7. See, e.g., T. X. Hammes, “O shore Control: A Proposed Strategy for an Unlikely Con ict,” Institute for National Strategic Studies, June 2012, fulltext/u2/a577602.pdf.
  8. Mainichi Shinbun, “121 Government ships invade Japa- nese territorial water, last year was the second highest” January 5, 2017, k00/00m/010/121000c.
  9. For example, a China Military Online article (October 21, 2015) reported that in recent years, all major combatants in the East China Sea area deployed assets for an average of more than 150 days. (Japan’s Defense White Paper, De- fense of Japan 2016, per/2016.html, 53.
64. Ralph Jennings, “Philippine President Duterte Likes China Because China Won’t Criticize Him,”, December 25, 2016, jennings/2016/12/25/a-secret-to-why-the-new-philip- pine-president-likes-china-so-much/#6962866e6a90.
65. David Cenciotti, “Three B-2s and Several B-1s Have Deployed to Guam to Deter China and North Korea,” The Aviationist, August 10, 2016, https://theaviationist. com/2016/08/10/three-b-2s-and-several-b-1s-have-de- ployed-to-guam-to-deter-china/.
66. Ronald O’Rourke, “China Naval Modernization: Implica- tions for U.S. Navy Capabilities – Background and Issues for Congress,” RL33153 (Congressional Research Service, May 31, 2016) pdf, 325.
67. Minnie Chan, “‘Unforgettable Humiliation’ Led to Development of GPS Equivalent,” South China Morn- ing Post, November 13, 2009, article/698161/unforgettable-humiliation-led-develop- ment-gps-equivalent.
68. Stephen Biddle and Ivan Oelrich, “Future Warfare in the Western Paci c: Chinese Antiaccess/Area Denial, US Air- Sea Battle, and Command of the Commons in East Asia,” International Security, 41 no. 1 (2016), 7–48.
69. Anthony H. Cordesman and Joseph Kendall, “How China Plans to Utilize Space for A2/AD in the Paci c,” The National Interest, August 17, 2016, http://nationalinterest. org/blog/the-buzz/how-china-plans-utilize-space-a2-ad- the-paci c-17383.
70. O ce of Naval Intelligence, “The PLA Navy: New Ca- pabilities and Missions for the 21st Century,” December 2015, agencies/China_Media/2015_PLA_NAVY_PUB_Print. pdf ?ver=2015-12-02-081247-687.
71. Eric Heginbotham et al., “The US-China Military Score- card: Forces, Geography, and the Evolving Balance of Power, 1996-2017”(RAND Corporation, 2015), http://
72. Jordan Wilson, “China’s Expanding Ability to Conduct Conventional Missile Strikes on Guam,” U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, May 2016, panding-ability-conduct-conventional-mis- sile-strikes-guam.
73. Cordesman and Kendall, “How China Plans to Utilize Space.”
74. Cordesman and Kendall, “How China Plans to Utilize Space”; Elbridge Colby, “From Sanctuary to Battle eld,” CNAS, January 2016, reports/from-sanctuary-to-battle eld-a-framework-for- a-us-defense-and-deterrence-strategy-for-space; Andrew Poulin, “Cyber Warfare: Just How Vulnerable is the U.S.
Beyond the San Hai: The Challenge of China’s Blue-Water Navy
Military,” Real Clear Defense, June 07, 2016. http://www. fare_just_how_vulnerable_is_the_us_military_109423. html.; and Greg Grant, “Software Glitch Renders Dark Thousands of GPS Receivers, For Days.” Defense Tech, June 1, 2010. software-glitch-renders-dark-thousands-of-gps-receiv- ers-for-days/.
  1. Poulin, “Cyber Warfare”; Peter W. Singer, “The Future of National Security, By the Numbers,” Brookings Institu- tion, May 6, 2011, the-future-of-national-security-by-the-numbers/; and “Resilient Military Systems and the Advanced Cyber Threat.,” Defense Science Board, Department of Defense, January 2013. ientMilitarySystems.CyberThreat.pdf.
  2. Andrew F. Krepinevich, “How to Deter China,” Foreign A airs, March/April 2015, https://www.foreigna airs. com/articles/china/2015-02-16/how-deter-china.
  3. Colby, “From Sanctuary to Battle eld.”
  4. Paul Scharre and Tyler Jost, “Technological Wild Cards,”
    in Erickson, Chinese Naval Shipbuilding, 296–316.
  5. “Annual Report to Congress: Military and Security Devel- opments Involving the People’s Republic of China 2016” U.S. Department of Defense, April 26, 2016, 109, https:// China%20Military%20Power%20Report.pdf.
  6. “Defense Secretary Nominee Mattis Warns World Order Under Historic Threat,” Fox News, January 12, 2017, vows-to-strengthen-military-if-con rmed-for-top-penta- gon-job.html.
  7. The United States has been able to conduct carrier opera- tions in the South China Sea when it has two total carriers deployed in the Western Paci c, with the second for- ward-deployed in Japan. See, e.g., Ankit Panda, “US Carri- er Strike Group Arrives in South China Sea,” The Diplo- mat, February 21, 2017, us-carrier-strike-group-arrives-in-the-south-china-sea/.
  8. Mark Landler and Michael Forsythe, “Trump Tells Xi Jinping U.S. Will Honor ‘One China’ Policy,” The New York Times, February 9, 2017, https://www.nytimes. com/2017/02/09/world/asia/donald-trump-china-xi-jin- ping-letter.html?_r=0.
  9. Charles A. Kupchan, The Vulnerability of Empire (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1996).
  10. Je rey Lin and P.W. Singer, “China’s New Ballistic Missile Submarine Could Change its Prospects in Nuclear War,” Popular Science, January 10, 2017, china-ballistic-missile-submarine-type-094a-ssbn.
85. This recommendation is the same as that made in the rst of a series of CNAS reports regarding growing maritime challenges in Asia. See Patrick M. Cronin and Robert D. Kaplan, “Cooperation from Strength: U.S. Strategy and the South China Sea,” in Patrick M. Cronin, ed., Cooperation from Strength: The United States, China and the South China Sea (Washington.: CNAS, January 2012), 20.
86. Sydney J. Freedberg Jr., “Invisible Bullets: The Navy’s Big Problem in Future War,” Breaking Defense, January 27, 2016, bullets-the-navys-big-problem-in-future-war/.
87. All augmentations of access and presence should be pur- sued according to best practices that ensure their a ord- ability and political sustainability. See Ely Ratner, Resi- dent Power: Building a Politically Sustainable U.S. Military Presence in Southeast Asia and Australia (Washington: CNAS, October 2013), les.
88. Wyatt Olson, “PACOM chief touts US-India coop- eration on seas, anti-terrorism,” Stars and Stripes, January 19, 2017, com-chief-touts-us-india-cooperation-on-seas-anti-ter- rorism-1.449584.
89. Manu Balachandran, “India may be building an un- derwater wall of microphones to keep track of China’s submarines,” Quartz (India), June 17, 2016, https:// of-microphones-to-keep-track-of-chinas-submarines/.
90. Such engagement can be selective and strategic – for instance, by encouraging China to remain mostly a conti- nental rather than a maritime power. See Daniel Blumen- thal, “A Strategy for China’s Imperial Overstretch,” The American Interest, March 1 2017, http://www.the-ameri- perial-overstretch/.
91. "United States," in The Military Balance: The Annual Assessment of Global Military Capabilities and Defence Economics 2000-2001, ed., The International Institute for Strategic Studies (London: Routledge Journals, 2001), 26-29; "East Asia and Australasia," in The Military Bal- ance: The Annual Assessment of Global Military Capabili- ties and Defence Economics 2000-2001, ed., The Interna- tional Institute for Strategic Studies (London: Routledge Journals, 2001), 195-196; "Chapter Three: North Amer- ica," in The Military Balance: The Annual Assessment of Global Military Capabilities and Defence Economics 2016, ed., The International Institute for Strategic Studies (London: Routledge Journals, 2016), 41-43; "Chapter Six: Asia," in The Military Balance: The Annual Assessment of Global Military Capabilities and Defence Economics 2016, ed., The International Institute for Strategic Studies (London: Routledge Journals, 2016), 242-244; Erickson, Chinese Naval Shipbuilding, 270; O ce of the Chief of
Naval Operations Deputy Chief of Naval Operations (In- tegration of Capabilities and Resources), "Report to Con- gress on the Annual Long-Range Plan for Construction of Naval Vessels for Fiscal Year 2017," (U.S. Department of Defense, April 2016), 5.
92. Nathan Hayes, "The Impact of China's One Belt One Road Initiative on Developing Countries," Internation-
al Development LSE, January 30, 2017, http://blogs.lse. of-chinas-one-belt-one-road-initiative-on-developing- countries/; James Kynge, Chris Campbell, Amy Kazmin, and Farhan Bokhari, "Beijing's global power play: How China rules the waves,"
Financial Times, January 12, 2017,
93. Eric Heginbotham, et al., "The U.S.-China Military Score- card: Forces, Geography, and the Evolving Balance of Power 1996-2017," (RAND Corporation, 2015).
94. The authors are grateful to CDR Thomas Shugart, USN for authoring this section.
About the Center for a New American Security
The mission of the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) is to develop strong, pragmatic and principled national security and defense policies. Building on the expertise and experience of its sta and advisors, CNAS engages policymakers, experts and the public with innovative, fact-based research, ideas and analysis to shape and elevate the national security debate. A key part of our mission is to inform and prepare the national security leaders of today and tomorrow.
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Bold. Innovative. Bipartisan. 

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