If there is one thing China doesn’t lack, it’s ambition – unsurprisingly, the same goes for their maritime presence. In fact, the Chinese are in the midst of one of the biggest maritime expansions in recent memory.
But, just what exactly do they have in mind? Below are three ways China’s seeking to expand their presence, for reasons both economic and military.
1.) A stronger navy
China has been ambitious in expanding their naval presence in recent years. The Chinese navy has increased its presence in the South China Sea significantly, staking claims to large swaths of islands.
Now, since 2006, China – in particular their ambitious Navy Adm. Wu, has expanded naval activity outside of China’s traditional role of coastal defense, and have been far more active in neighboring regions.
2.) Expanding naval seaports
In step with expanding their naval presence, China has also expanded their seaports – not just in neighboring regions – but across continents, reaching as far as the west coast of Africa and South America.
These seaports serve primarily as resupply ports for Chinese naval vessels, and are coupled with a rising armada of refueling ships (China now has the second largest naval refueling fleet in the world).
To quell any fear that China is expanding their military presence into allied territory (namely the US) Beijing has been quite cautious in limiting naval activity in geographically sensitive ports to visits centered around infrastructure and trade – namely those in South America.
3.) Maritime silk road
As we’ve covered previously, china’s maritime ambitions stretch far beyond naval supremacy and ubiquity, the also touch upon fortifying China’s economic might.
In particular, a trade initiative – which is a sister proposal to China’s “new silk road” – called the maritime silk road promises to forge a maritime trade route which stretches all the way from Shanghai to Venice, Italy, stopping at a large swatch of European ports along the way.