China and the power of the port

The launch of China’s first domestically built aircraft carrier on April 26, 2017
The growing number of Chinese-controlled ports around the world mean its new domestically built aircraft carrier will have plenty of places to dock (source: dpa)
  • China is making huge investments in ports in Asia and Europe
  • These will increase its influence and help it meet economic objectives
  • They will also bolster its energy security and military strength
  • Many countries worry about these developments, but they also present an opportunity

Changes in the balance of power throughout history could be charted by the rise and fall of maritime powers. The last great shift, away from British control of the seas, paved the way for the so-called “American century.” In the 21st century, a new maritime power is beginning to emerge: China. The growth of China’s military capabilities at sea has gained a lot of attention, and with good reason. A 2015 Chinese government white paper on military strategy argued that “the traditional mentality that land outweighs sea must be abandoned,” reinforcing the observation that Beijing is increasingly focused on maritime activity.

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