Taiwan's Maritime Security

By Martin Edmonds; Michael M. Tsai | Go to book overview

2

The rise of the PLAN and the implications for East Asian security

Sam Bateman and Chris Rahman


Introduction

This chapter addresses the strategic implications of the rise of the People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN), including how that process might affect the stability of the region as a whole. However, the "sum of the whole" is not necessarily equal to the "sum of the parts". A larger PLAN will impact on particular countries differently and much will depend on how individual countries respond to the situation. These responses will be extremely varied: Japan, for example, is more concerned than South Korea or Russia; and in Southeast Asia, Malaysia, and Thailand may have a more relaxed view than Vietnam or the Philippines. Further to the West, India will likely respond strongly to a larger PLAN, particularly if the Chinese operate into the Indian Ocean with forward bases in littoral countries. Overarching the response of individual countries in the region itself will be the attitude of the United States and whether or not the United States Navy (USN) institutionalizes the PLAN as its natural adversary.

A particular challenge for East Asian security lies in the accommodation of not only a larger PLAN but also of China as potentially the major regional maritime power. As well as a larger navy, the dimensions of China's maritime power will include a large global shipping fleet, vast shipbuilding capacity, and a major role in the management of regional oceans and seas and their resources. 1 To enable the future regional security environment to remain relatively benign, China will thus need to play a key role in the processes of maritime security co-operation and dialogue in East Asia. Having evolved its geopolitical position from a continental and coastal power to that of a continentally-based maritime power, China might have to adjust some of its more restrictive views of coastal state rights vis-à-vis those of maritime user states. This would be a positive contribution to regional security.


The PLAN and China's maritime power

Current trends

In a speech to the National People's Congress on March 6 2001, China's Finance Minister, Xiang Huaicheng, announced that China would increase defense spending

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