CHINA has developed its national strategy in phases over the last 60 years. But its need for growth – one of its core goals – is creating one of its biggest challenges as GIS expert Dr Uwe Nerlich explains.

GROWTH is one of the cornerstones of China’s national strategy.

And the need to develop this goal has led the country to extend its foreign interests and its dependence on exports, energy and financial markets.

The second priority, growth, was pursued through four modernising goals. These were agriculture, industry, science and defence

The national goals were established with the foundation of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in 1949. They were unity, growth and stability and were aimed at creating a strategic identity.

Unity was extended to Xinjiang, the largest province covering a sixth of the country’s total area in north western China in 1949, to Tibet in 1950, Hongkong in 1997 and Macao in 1999. The island of Taiwan was never contested as part of China as both the PRC and Taiwan remained committed to a one-state-doctrine.

The second priority, growth, was pursued through four modernising goals. These were agriculture, industry, science and defence.

Marine resources

Successful growth, was established after 30 years of turmoil, and widened China’s external interests through dependence on exports and financial markets as well as demands for energy and investments. It led to regional and, in a long-term perspective, global influences on China’s national strategy.

China claimed the South China Sea was and remains a core interest - ‘historically justified and indisputable’ - and on a par with Tibet, Xingjiang and Taiwan.

Sovereignty claims on the Spratly and the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea were extended to make them Economic Exclusion Zones (EEZ) which covered a claim on all marine resources extending to 200 miles. The islands and reefs offer rich fishing grounds and initial surveys indicate the area may also contain significant oil and natural gas.

Development of navy

China’s defence forces, particularly its growing maritime force, the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN), were extended to cover the first island chain of the Spratly Islands. The reach of its navy was also extended to include the Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam and Brunei. The current development of the navy is expected to extend this military cover to further island chains.

The Chinese navy's first aircraft carrier made its maiden sea trials in August, 2011.

China has developed and is continuing to develop its national strategy in stages. It is extending its core interests and its further claims give it access to resources and regional dominance.

These steps weaken or neutralise the United States’ influence in the region and could lead to eventual regional dominance for China.

China will face growing challenges at home. It is China’s domestic priorities on growth and stability which reinforce its regional and increasingly global interests.

Domestic needs

China’s national strategy is focused on meeting its domenstic goals

China’s national strategy is focused on meeting its domestic goals. This is driving it towards expanding its core interests and to achieve this China is increasing its power and leverage with other countries.

There will be a greater interchange with foreign markets and influences as the only way to meet China’s domestic needs in its home markets. And this will in turn exacerbate the country’s internal domestic challenges by exposing it to global communication, foreign investment and dependence on export markets and foreign resources to feed its growth.

China Facts

  • World’s most populous country
  • Culture stretches back 4,000 years
  • It invented paper, gunpowder, the compass, paper money and credit banking
  • World’s fastest-growing economy
  • World's largest number of people using the internet

China country profile

Name: People’s Republic of China (PRC) established in 1949

Population: 1.35 billion (UN 2010)

Capital: Beijing

Language: Mandarin Chinese

Religions: Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, Taoism

Exports: Manufactured goods, clothing and textiles, electronics, arms

Media: World’s biggest online users with 420 million on the web, 2,000 newspapers and 1,000 state-owned radio stations

Head of state: President Hu Jintao since 2003

Prime Minister: Wen Jiabao

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