China’s response to the Obama administration’s pivot to Asia is now enshrined in Communist party documents as official policy, the FT reports:
Hu Jintao, China’s outgoing president, has called for China to become a “maritime power” in language that will fuel concerns among its neighbours and in the US over how it deals with a host of territorial disputes.Mr Hu told the opening session of the Communist party’s 18th Congress yesterday that it “should [. . . ] resolutely safeguard China’s maritime rights and interests, and build China into a maritime power.” [. . .]Much of the funding from double-digit defence spending increases over more than a decade has been used to modernise China’s weak navy.Non-military departments such as fisheries and maritime surveillance have also seen their fleets expanded and modernised.
China is going to become a more powerful and aggressive maritime state, building up its naval power to assert and protect its interests—especially in its territorial disputes with Japan and other neighbors like Taiwan and Vietnam.We will have to see what this means in practice, but a major military build up in East Asian waters now looks inevitable. U.S. defense planning and expenditure will have to reflect this.