China set out its ambitions for a bigger naval presence far from its coasts, amid wariness among its neighbors over whether the country’s fleet will be used to back up its territorial claims.
The People’s Liberation Army will add “open seas protection” to “offshore waters defense” on a list of core naval missions, according to the country’s 2015 defense white paper. China must expand on its “active defense strategy” to meet the demands of a new historical era.
“The maritime battlefield has been broadened, and China’s navy needs to react to protect its rights globally,” Wang Jin, a PLA senior colonel, said at a briefing in Beijing on Tuesday.
China’s increased naval might, as well as its assertion to territory in the contested South China Sea and East China Sea, has helped spur the region’s largest military buildup in decades. It has shown a greater willingness to project power far from its coasts, evacuating workers from Yemen and joining Russia for naval exercises in the Mediterranean.