NIGHTWATCH: China Goes to Sea

02 China

China: Xinhua reported today that at a study session with members of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee on Tuesday, President Xi Jinping called for efforts to learn more about and further manage maritime development.

Xi said China will adhere to the path of peaceful development, but “in no way will the country abandon its legitimate rights and interests, nor will it give up its core national interests.”

The president said China will “use peaceful means and negotiations to settle disputes and strive to safeguard peace and stability.”

Meanwhile, he stressed that China will prepare to cope with complexities, enhance its capacity in safeguarding maritime rights and interests, and resolutely safeguard its maritime rights and interests.

In the 21st century, oceans and seas have an increasingly important role to play in a country’s economic development and opening up to the outside world, he said. Their status has become more prominent in regards to safeguarding state sovereignty, national security and development interests, as well as the advancement of a country’s ecological civilization.

The oceans and seas have an increasingly important strategic status concerning global competition in the spheres of politics, economic development, military, and technology, he said.

The key report to the 18th National Congress of the CPC held last November outlined the “maritime power” strategy, calling for enhanced capacity for exploiting marine resources, protecting the marine environment and safeguarding China’s maritime rights and interests.

At the study session, Xi underscored efforts to make marine industries a pillar of China’s national economy.

Relevant parties should improve the capability and enlarge the fields for exploiting marine resources so as to “cultivate the marine economy into a new growth point of the country,” he said.

Comment: The Chinese leadership appears to have embraced Alfred Thayer Mahan with a Chinese communist twist. The implications of Xi’s comments are that Chinese maritime ambitions extend far beyond assertions and defense of sea claims in Asia.