27 July 2012

“Selfish Superpower” No Longer? China’s Anti-Piracy Activities and 21st-Century Global Maritime Governance

Andrew Erickson and Austin Strange, ‘Selfish Superpower’ No Longer? China’s Anti-Piracy Activities and 21st-Century Global Maritime Governance,” Harvard Asia Quarterly, 14.1/2 (Spring/Summer 2012): 92-102.

China has actively maintained an anti-piracy military presence for nearly four years in and around the Gulf of Aden, the strategic maritime region situated between the Horn of Africa and Yemen. This is the first major instance in which China has dispatched security forces independently in areas outside of its sovereign territory to protect Chinese citizens and national interests. These unprecedented developments demonstrate the sensitivity with which Beijing reacts to domestic and external pressure to protect its interests in the global commons, and they provide insight into how China is cooperating with other states to address transnational

security threats such as piracy. More broadly, these missions also elucidate how China will participate in the broader establishment of 21st-century global maritime governance norms and how international maritime governance issues relate to China’s overarching vision of its role in the international system. This emerging set of potential indicators is particularly important, as China has demonstrated great power aspirations but has not yet contributed public goods to the international community commensurate with such a status. Anti-piracy operations represent one such contribution that Beijing can use to bridge this gap, and thereby take its place among the leading nations of the world. …