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  • China's Maritime Power and Strategy: History, National Security and Geopolitics by Hailong Ju
  • Dingding Chen
China's Maritime Power and Strategy: History, National Security and Geopolitics, by Hailong Ju. Singapore: World Scientific, 2015. 300 pp. US $130.00 (Hardcover). ISBN: 9789814619387.

Since China adopted the strategy of building itself into a maritime power in 2014, its rapid construction of maritime capability and active implementation of maritime strategic initiatives have drawn global attention. Growing power and frequent policies serve as a window for the world to view China and as an opportunity for the Chinese people to reflect on theories regarding such strategy. Hailong Ju has written the representative book on the theories and practice of China's maritime power building during this period.

Ju discusses maritime power based on three theoretical bases, namely, the construction of the Chinese navy and the thoughts as well as practices of its naval leadership since 1840; main ideas of world maritime powers; and relations regarding China's overall development, naval as well as geopolitical. Based on these three foundations, he puts forward that as China grows in power in East Asia in the next 30 years, it should possess certain naval strength to match its status, and should have certain geopolitical leverages so as to maintain a path of peaceful development. The author analyzes and criticizes the international mainstream maritime strategic theories, especially Mahan's sea power theory, which embodies author's deliberation on the Chinese navy and geopolitics and is the crux of his conception of China's peaceful path.

Most of the Chinese scholars merely focus on six elements of naval development. The author, however, sees beyond Mahan's theory. From Mahan's understanding of geopolitics, he summarizes three concepts that are known as sea power for basic security, sea power for strategic interests, and sea power for hegemonic purposes, thus laying the basis for China for consultation with its international counterparts.

Based on Mahan's geopolitical analysis of the Panama Canal, Mexico Bay, the Hawaii Islands, and others, the author discusses the logic of the US shift into a maritime power. It is obvious, writes the author, that Mahan's first concern for US maritime power is security. Mahan is strongly opposed to any foreign powers occupying the crucial geopolitical strategic locations around the United States. The ability to maintain security in neighboring waters is the fundamental criterion for maritime powers. Mahan emphasizes that maritime powers must effectively control special waters and islands to ensure offshore security because their safety [End Page 183] will be threatened if these waters and islands are occupied by hostile forces. The author defines such offshore security as sea power for basic security, which is the geopolitical basis of maritime powers.

Based on Mahan's analysis on the geopolitics of Hawaii, Ju concludes that maritime power will expand outward following its extension of overseas interests. Combining Mahan's naval strategic thoughts with China's failure to protect is coastal interests in modern history, the author observes a European and US naval offensive strategy: with the expansion of overseas national interests in modern times, Europe and the United States extended their sea power from mainland to offshore seas, then to the globe. He defines such strategic objectives as sea power for strategic interests, which is related to expanding national interests. Taking a step further, the author names the excessive extension and abuse of this sea power as sea power for hegemonic purposes.

The author holds that China is currently constructing and achieving the goal of sea power for basic security. Based on the geographical characteristics of the surrounding waters, the construction process will be synchronized with China's strategic development into a regional power in East Asia. Against such a background, China regards development as a fundamental goal, and therefore must be harmonious with neighboring countries for common prosperity. It will not adopt a development path of tit for tat. Therefore, despite the South China Sea and East China Sea issues, the confrontation will not persist as a major trend. To maintain its maritime security, China has to flex its muscle when facing pressure from maritime hegemony, but its internal demands for development force...


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pp. 183-184
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