Preparing for the Ocean Century

China's Changing Political Institutions for Ocean Governance and Maritime Development.

Article appearing in Issues and Studies, Vol. 51, No.2

This article uses Chinese-language resources to discuss the development of China’s comprehensive ocean development strategy and the formation of civilian institutions to govern oceans as China prepares for the ocean century. The article argues that while China does have nationalistic aspirations to possess state-of-the-art naval forces and science and technology abilities, China’s ocean focus is also greatly motivated by economic and resource interests, and the security need to protect those interests. The article begins by discussing China’s ocean economic interests, and then turns to explaining how China’s ocean development strategy now goes beyond its interests in economic development toward a more comprehensive national ocean strategy, even though ocean economic development is still very important to the state. The article then traces the development of China’s ocean development strategy and the evolution of the political institutions that govern China’s ocean policy. Finally, the article concludes with a discussion of the implications of China’s ocean strategy, with special attention being paid to policy options for the United States, likely the country with the greatest potential for maritime conflict with China in the 21st century.