China’s Maritime Ambitions

Authored by: Andrew S. Erickson

The Routledge Handbook of Asian Security Studies

Print publication date:  October  2017
Online publication date:  October  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138210295
eBook ISBN: 9781315455655
Adobe ISBN:


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Maritime forces are on the leading edge of China’s military modernization, both programmatically and geographically. They offer vital tools for achieving progressively diminishing ripples of control in the Near Seas (Yellow, East, and South China Seas), influence in the Indo-Pacific “Two Oceans” region, and reach across the seas beyond. 1 China’s People’s Armed Forces (PAF) include three principal sea forces. The People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN), the world’s largest, is second only to the U.S. Navy in aggregate capabilities. The China Coast Guard (CCG) is the world’s largest civil maritime force. Finally, the PAF Maritime Militia (PAFMM) is the world’s largest irregular sea force, and virtually the only one tasked with involvement in sovereignty disputes. This chapter surveys the underlying dynamics, structural trends, and future outlook for these forces.

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