Publication: Asia-Pacific Regional Security Assessment 2017
02 June 2017
China is changing rapidly from a land-oriented power to a hybrid land–sea power, reflecting its increasingly widespread interests. As its overall national power grows, Beijing faces mounting domestic and international pressure to safeguard these interests. China is incrementally trying to secure outstanding territorial and maritime claims in the Yellow, East and South China seas (the ‘near seas’), while more slowly developing the capacity to protect its interests and increase its influence farther afield (the ‘far seas’). The latest developments include multi-layered military operations in the near seas and enhanced operational capabilities beyond. As Beijing’s interests, capabilities and forces continue to radiate outward, consolidate and integrate, China’s naval and other maritime forces’ ability to sustain high-intensity combat under increasingly contested and uncertain conditions, at ever-greater distances from the mainland, is likely to advance. Creating true combat capabilities against other major navies in the far seas is challenging, however, and will require considerable focus, resources, effort and time.