Powered by the world’s second largest economy and defense budget, China has implemented a consistent, incremental strategy of upholding its outstanding territorial and maritime claims in the Near Seas (Yellow, East, and South China Seas), while more gradually developing an outer layer of less-intensive capabilities to further its interests and influence farther afield. In March, China further enshrined its turn toward maritime power in the 13th Five-Year Plan.
Although China is often frustratingly opaque to outside analysts with respect to specific military hardware capabilities, the military strategy that informs the People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) organization and use of its forces is often far more transparent in its broader objectives and dimensions. Demonstrably authoritative PLA texts that discuss these topics, such as the Academy of Military Science’s (AMS) multiple versions of Science of Military Strategy (战略学, or SMS), are increasingly joined by official Defense White Papers (DWP) as well as a wide range of other publications and data.  Considering this material together offers a fairly clear picture of where China stands militarily and its intended course for the future.