Clear interests and clouded future : force structure and strategy options for the People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN)
Author(s)Pickard, Kevin, Jr
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Political Science.
M. Taylor Fravel.
MetadataShow full item record
As China's participation in the global economy continues to expand, its increasing reliance on imported resources and overseas trade has exerted pressure on China to safeguard its growing maritime economic and political interests. Although Chinese national interests are well understood, there is no clear consensus regarding the long-term orientation or intended goals of China's modernizing military. By examining how sea power theory, maritime interests, economic and political constraints, and military/naval doctrine may influence China's naval force structure and maritime strategy, the author seeks to answer whether it is possible to deduce the most probable future roles of the People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN). This paper suggest the answer is yes and identifies three force structure and maritime strategy models that the PLAN may utilize to support China's expanding global and maritime interests. The author posits that the PLAN will continue to make quantitative and qualitative improvements, but due primarily to fiscal and technological constraints, China will not directly challenge the United States by matching its extensive multiple mission naval force structure. The PLAN is still in a nascent stage of development and already has many of the pieces in place to proceed toward each model presented, but China must make choices that require it to develop the PLAN in conjunction with specific and elaborated maritime strategies or risk being a "jack-of-all-trades and a master of none." The PLAN will therefore develop either as 1) a "Unification" Navy, maximizing coercive pressure on Taiwan by focusing on regional anti-access strategies; 2) an "Influence Projection" Navy, capable of a wide range of operations, but not with a capability nearing a U.S. carrier strike group; or 3) a "Global/Hemispheric Sea Denial"(cont.) Navy, designed around a fleet of ultra-quiet nuclear attack submarines, designed to deter a major naval power from dominating China's vital sea lines of communication. Although there is considerable variation in opinion and analysis as to the exact direction of China's grand strategy, the author identifies these models as the most logical force structure and maritime strategies that China might pursue in support of its maritime interests.
Thesis (S.M.)--Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dept. of Political Science, 2007.Includes bibliographical references (leaves 115-121).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Political Science.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology