On April 12, Chinese President Xi Jinping, who is also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, made important remarks during a naval parade held in the South China Sea. The event is the largest maritime military parade in the history of the People’s Republic of China, showcasing a new height of the People’s Liberation Army Navy via its Liaoning carrier battle group and the new-generation nuclear submarine. China’s ability to defend world and regional peace has reached another milestone.
During his speech, Xi noted that the mission of building a strong navy has never been more urgent. This is crucial to point out in today’s international environment and his tone carried a robust sense of mission.
Xi has expressed in several key reports that China is closer than ever to achieving the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation. However, history reminds us that the closer we are to accomplishing a glorious goal, the more the pressure and risk. Building a strong navy, as well as national defense, has never been more significant to China.
After 40 years of reform and opening-up, China has risen to become the world’s second largest economy. In this process, China has further advanced its unstoppable economic potential. However, China’s elevated status, accompanied by its incredible progress, has attracted both friendly and hostile gestures. Thus, catching up in national defense is necessary to attain balanced growth. For any big nation, strong economic development without balanced efforts in national defense is a dangerous combination. This might give other powers the idea and temptation to subdue China with non-economic methods.
A country’s navy is considered the force that bears most pressure, while also being the most active in the modern military. Despite all the military forces of a country, the navy usually stands at the forefront in crucial moments. The technologies for naval forces are complex and at a high cost, representing the refined strength of its country. Strong naval forces only belong to a powerful country, reflecting the accumulation of a nation’s strength, and indicating the nation’s future and destiny.
The step-by-step development of Chinese navy is steady and strong. Through the South China Sea military parade, Chinese people can see that part of China’s economic strength is quickly converting to military strength. We can also predict that China’s ability to convert between its strengths will be stronger in the future.
The logic of maintaining peace is different among major, mid-sized and small countries. China must objectively understand the security situations we are dealing with and build the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to show that it projects power and focuses on maintaining peace. This is an urgent task which requires racing against time.
China must ignore the noise of the “Chinese military threat” theory from some Western countries. The theory is a misrepresentation of China’s role as the world’s second-largest economy and its role in securing global peace. The theory is also a discrimination to China’s status as one of the world’s major powers.
To build a top-tier navy, China has a long way to go. To understand the enormous challenges China faces in building a blue-water navy, one should look at how other countries monitor and scrutinize China’s foreign ports and naval supply checkpoints. Furthermore, China’s navy needs to accumulate vast experience to become an effective instrument in China’s toolbox for deterrence.
There are two essential strategic questions for China: How do we show others our determination in defending national interest under the thesis of ‘China’s peaceful rise’? How do we communicate our simultaneous dedication to world peace and resolution to fight aggression?
Many WWII-era ships are still commissioned by other navies around the world, and yet more than half of the ships participating in this parade started their service around the time of the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China. The Chinese navy has rapidly developed, and we believe it will continue to do so until it reaches its maturity. China will be more secure and the world more peaceful as the Chinese navy sails into the deep blue sea.