08 January 2010

Review of CMSI Vols. 1-3 in Asia Policy

Scott W. Bray (the U.S. Navy’s Senior Intelligence Officer for China), Turning to the Sea… This Time to Stay,” Book Review Essay, Asia Policy, No. 9 (January 2010), pp. 167-72.

CMSI “Studies in Chinese Maritime Development” book series, vols. 1-3:

“these three books provide excellent perspective and concepts for understanding China’s maritime history and the strategic drivers behind modernization and expansion of China’s navy. Written before the PLAN’s Gulf of Aden mission—which observers will likely reflect upon as the transformation point for China’s development not only as a maritime power but also as a great power—the volumes capture the rationale that pushed Beijing to begin executing military missions for the protection of Chinese interests abroad rather than merely the protection of Chinese territory. … Together, these collections of essays are important sources for understanding China’s current military goals and investments.”

Andrew S. Erickson, Lyle J. Goldstein, and Carnes Lord, eds., China Goes to Sea: Maritime Transformation in Comparative Historical Perspective (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 2009).

“compares historical examples dating from the Persian Empire’s maritime transformation in 550-490 BC to China’s ongoing metamorphosis, expertly addressing the factors influencing China’s turn to the sea. … This volume includes excellent work… highlighting a number of ways in which China appears to be deviating from the path historical precedence would seem to dictate. …evidence that China’s path may not replicate historical examples is offered by Erickson and Goldstein, who provide an excellent overview of how Beijing has studied the rise of great powers in hopes of emulating successes and avoiding pitfalls. Carnes Lord reviews the factors that led to failed maritime transformations and finds no compelling reason that China’s turn to the sea will fail. Instead, he finds a country that has accurately identified its geostrategic vulnerability to seaward attack and has adjusted its maritime policies to these changing security requirements. Lord’s only question is the pace and degree of China’s maritime transformation.”

Gabriel B. Collins, Andrew S. Erickson, Lyle J. Goldstein, and William S. Murray, eds., China’s Energy Strategy: The Impact on Beijing’s Maritime Policies (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 2008).

“[the authors] have described the drivers of China’s quest for a limited power projection capability—and they did so well before Beijing’s December 2008 decision to deploy a series of task groups to the Gulf of Aden in order to protect shipping from an onslaught of pirate attacks. … This volume makes the case that Beijing’s desire to ensure steady and secure access to the energy resources required to continue the momentum of China’s economic growth will ‘compel the PLAN [People’s Liberation Army Navy] to be used increasingly in nonconflict situations in a wider variety of regions.’ The PLAN’s actions today certainly support this argument; Beijing’s naval task groups in the Gulf of Aden are operating thousands of miles from China to protect merchant shipping, much of which is transporting oil. … details how important maritime commerce is to China’s continued economic development.”

Andrew S. Erickson, Lyle J. Goldstein, William S. Murray, and Andrew R. Wilson, eds., China’s Future Nuclear Submarine Force (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 2007).

“captures important aspects of China’s submarine force that explain the rationale for Beijing’s large submarine investment, beginning by recounting its maritime goals and doctrine, then examining the applicability of a submarine force to these goals. …raises many important issues that influence the future of China’s nuclear submarine force….”