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China to become a maritime power

Mar. 8,2014

“It seems that maritime geopolitics has never been an issue for the Chinese government.” Some politics researchers indicated that even though China has a 32-kilometer-long coastline, traditionally China has always been a continental power. However, under the world situation, China has to transfer itself to a maritime power.

Modern maritime power emerged in Europe, which was not accidental at all. During the 15th century, the Portuguese have been sailing all over the world. At that time, the Christian Crusades were killing each other. The Muslin world was in a mess. The Portuguese have no place to go on the continent and turn their direction to the ocean.

Throughout China’s 5000 years of civilization, the territorial disputes and alien invasions were all about land. Before the invasion of the Western powers, China has never been threatened from the ocean. During the 1980s, China carried out the reform and opening-up policy. Western marine civilization began flowing into China. During the 1990s, China decided to accede to the WTO, a major step towards “integrating with the world.” Starting from the beginning of this century, China began to practice a “going out” strategy, which directly led to the emergence of China’s maritime geopolitics concerns.

In the era of globalization, maritime states were engaged in numerous interactions in political, economic, cultural, and social fields which had a huge impact on China. China’s rapid economic development needs the import of resources in a large quantity. At the same time, China is also an export-oriented manufacturing center for the rest of the world. Reliance on external resources and an export-oriented manufacturing sector has made China a major trading nation. Chinese capital is increasingly “going out” which means that China needs to build sufficient capacities to protect its overseas interests. The discovery of major marine resources in China’s coastal waters encouraged China’s neighboring countries to move fast to exploit the resources in the maritime zones or islands that are disputed with China. This has intensified the sovereignty dispute and even conflicts over these islands and reefs between China and its neighboring countries. All these issues indicate that China must turn to the ocean and place maritime geopolitics on its agenda.

Corresponding Author: ZHENG Yongnian
CNKI Press Officer: ZHONG Ming
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