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Modernization of the PLA Navy and East Asian Regional Security Issues

Author(s): Johnson, David

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Abstract: China's development of a "blue water" navy is a growing security concern to East Asian and Southeast Asian nations. Taiwan and countries bordering the South China Sea have particular cause to worry about China's growing force projection capability. Prior to 1978 China possessed mainly a "brown water" navy, with limited long-range force projection capacity. Since 1978 China increased expenditures in weapons research and development and sought to professionalize its naval service by instituting training regimes and a merit-based promotion program. By 1995 China had greatly expanded its long-range arsenal. Recent concerns related to China's naval development have focused on China's interest in developing or acquiring an aircraft carrier. The growth of Chinese nationalism, parallel to economic and military expenditure growth, has directed particular international attention to China's stated intent to "reclaim" sovereign territory, particularly the Spratly Islands and Taiwan. Practically, there are limited options for the United States for curtailing Chinese naval development, as most weapons development is conducted indigenously. U.S. policy goals, consequently, should not focus on trying to halt China's military development, but rather should seek to define what response is appropriate for the United States given such development: delineating what kinds of military actions are antithetical to U.S. interests and clarifying the U.S. response to aggression deemed to transgress such established limits.
Publication Date: 1996
Electronic Publication Date: 1996
Pages: 30 - 51
Type of Material: Journal Article
Series/Report no.: Volume 7;
Journal/Proceeding Title: Journal of Public and International Affairs
Version: Final published version. Article is made available in OAR by the publisher's permission or policy.

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