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Special feature

Beyond the China Seas

Will China Become a Global “Sea Power”?
Alexandre Sheldon-Duplaix
p. 43-52


In May 2015, the Information Office of the State Council published a new white paper on China’s military strategy stating that “overseas interests [had become] an imminent issue.” Accordingly, China has embarked on a build-up aimed at making itself into a “sea power,” mainly in the Indo-Pacific region, in order to deter a US intervention in Taiwan and to protect its trade in the Indian Ocean. China has acquired a medium-sized aircraft carrier with a tenth of the capability of a US super-carrier and is learning the ropes as fast as the more experienced and poorer Russia did in the early 1990s. As a source of pride to its citizens, China’s aircraft carrier program plays into the hands of the Communist Party to demonstrate its legitimacy and success. And yet, China has not yet tried to challenge the superiority of the US Navy on the “far seas.” With three or four carriers, China will remain a regional navy with global reach leading India, the UK, and France at that level.

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Bibliographical reference

Alexandre Sheldon-Duplaix, « Beyond the China Seas », China Perspectives, 2016/3 | 2016, 43-52.

Electronic reference

Alexandre Sheldon-Duplaix, « Beyond the China Seas », China Perspectives [Online], 2016/3 | 2016, Online since 01 September 2017, connection on 30 November 2020. URL : ; DOI :

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About the author

Alexandre Sheldon-Duplaix

Alexandre Sheldon-Duplaix is researcher and lecturer at the French Defence Historical Service.Service historique de la Défense, Château de Vincennes, Avenue de Paris, F - 94306 Vincennes Cedex, France (

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