07 September 2012

Christopher Hughes reviews “China, the United States, and 21st Century Sea Power” in China Review International

Christopher R. Hughes, review of Andrew S. Erickson, Lyle J. Goldstein, and Nan Li, eds., China, the United States, and 21st Century Sea Power: Defining a Maritime Security Partnership (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 2010); in China Review International 17.4 (2010): 424-29.

… an impressive volume by Erickson, Goldstein, and Li. …the general tone of these papers is… positive, with the contributors devoting themselves to finding ways to offset the major strategic challenges inherent in great power transitions by promoting cooperation on more mundane, functional issues such as the Container Security Initiative, combating global terrorism, policing the oceans, and working together on humanitarian, rescue, and health operations. …

The chapters of this book that analyze the extent of small-scale naval cooperation are… impressive and full of useful information. Readers of a more realist persuasion… may be more convinced when geostrategic dilemmas are more directly confronted on the section on Perspectives on Regional Security. Here James R. Holmes and Toshi Yoshihara give a well-informed account of how China’s rise is being met with a nineteenth-century style of geopolitics from India in the Indian Ocean. Michael J. Green contributes a particularly good chapter on the regional implications and prospects for U.S.-China naval cooperation that draws attention to the emerging tendency of China’s neighbors to look to external balancing (with the United States, Japan, or India). Having been senior director for Asian affairs in the National Security Council under the George W. Bush administration, it is not surprising that Green is most aware of how the potentials of confidence building through military-military relations ultimately depend on the broader political context….

…the editorial process has allowed some of the authors to focus debate on the March 2009 harassment of the U.S. surveillance ship, Impeccable, in the South China Sea. This generates some very useful explanations as to why it is so hard to use international law when China and the United States approach maritime territorial issues and issues of jurisdiction from what David N. Griffiths calls such different “national narratives”….

China, the United States, and 21st Century Sea Power: Defining a Maritime Security Partnership (CMSI Vol. 4)

Andrew S. Erickson, Lyle J. Goldstein, and Nan Li, eds., China, the United States, and 21st Century Sea Power: Defining a Maritime Security Partnership (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 2010).

Proceedings Magazine 2010 Notable Naval Book

  • Coming soon on Kindle!
  • China Ocean Press (www.oceanpress.com.cn) has purchased the simplified Chinese language rights and will soon publish an authorized Chinese-language edition.

Author of:

  • “The Container Security Initiative and U.S.-China Relations,” pp. 59-100;
  • “Prospects for Sino-U.S. Naval Cooperation against Avian Influenza,” pp. 326-52;
  • and “Chinese Views of America’s New Maritime Strategy,” pp. 429-70.

Coauthor, with Lyle Goldstein, of “Introduction: In the Same Boat Together,” pp. ix-xxix.


China’s rise on the world’s oceans is attracting wide attention and may ultimately restructure the global balance of power during the course of the 21st century. Many books have described this phenomenon and the significant strategic implications that flow from Beijing’s rapid maritime development. However, the subject of whether and how to potentially integrate a stronger China into a global maritime security partnership has not been adequately explored. Delving into a variety of vital domains of contemporary maritime security, American and Chinese contributors to this edited volume illustrate that despite recent turbulence in U.S.-China military relations, substantial shared interests should enable extensive maritime security cooperation. But for professionals to structure cooperation effectively, they warn, Washington and Beijing must create sufficient political and institutional space.

This is the fourth book in the series “Studies in Chinese Maritime Development” published jointly by the China Maritime Studies Institute and the Naval Institute Press.


“At a time when many are talking about a possible China-U.S. naval conflict as part of their strategic rivalry, this path-breaking volume offers an alternative approach. The authors present a blueprint for pursuing shared U.S.-China interests and cooperation in the maritime domain. It is a must-read for practitioners and strategists alike who wish to see a new partnership between the two maritime giants.”

–Prof. Wang Jisi, Dean, School of International Studies, Peking University

“If you think the U.S.-China relationship is the foremost of our bilateral relationships, and if issues on the seas of East Asia give you pause, then this book is for you. Events give it timeliness; the exceptional quality and depth of research give it permanence. This comprehensive set of thoughts, background, and actionable recommendations belongs on the desk of military and diplomatic decision-makers, as well as scholars of the U.S.-China way ahead.”

–Admiral Joseph W. Prueher, USN (Ret.), Former Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Pacific Command, and Ambassador to China

“In the maritime strategic tensions more prominent than before between China and the United States, this excellently edited collection is essential because it focuses on the hopeful maritime security partnership between them. It is definitely among the few best books on this topic, a topic with enormous implications for the security and prosperity of the 21st-century world.”

–Dr. Shi Yinhong, Professor of International Relations and Strategy, and Director, Center for American Studies, Renmin University of China

“The opportunities and challenges confronting the United States and China in the maritime domain in the years ahead are of great importance to those two countries and to the entire Asia-Pacific region. Thoughtful examination and analysis of those opportunities and challenges, as done in this publication, will provide a critical foundation for decision-makers as they address stability and security issues for the United States and China.”

–Admiral Timothy J. Keating, USN (Ret.), Former Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Pacific Command

“A timely, penetrating analysis of the transformation of contemporary power relations at sea. Chinese and American maritime interests are destined to affect their relations, and hence their cooperative partnership is of vital importance to a rule-binding security order in the world.”

–Dr. Shen Dingli, Executive Dean, Institute of International Studies, and Director, Center for American Studies, Fudan University


“These essays bear close reading because they faithfully reflect the thinking and policies of the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC) and the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), which comprises all of China’s armed forces.”

—Richard Halloran, Parameters 42.1 (Spring 2012): 118-19.

“an impressive series… notable in containing contributions from several Chinese academics.”

—Conrad Waters, Review of Four Naval Institute Press Books, “Naval Books of the Year,” Warship 2012: 190-91.

“It is unusual for a book on military affairs to be suffused with optimism, but this one is optimistic as well as interesting. It consists of papers presented at a Conference at the US Naval War College in December 2007, with some added later. The authors and editors do a good job of integrating and relating subsequent events up to March 2010. …undergraduates, graduate students, and most China scholars will find this book interesting and informative.”

–Harlan W. Jencks, The China Quarterly, 208 (December 2011): 1034–36.

“An oft-heard refrain from international relations specialists, as well as within Track II fora, is that maritime confidence-building measures and maritime cooperation are necessary to lessen tensions. Indeed they are, but the difficulty is moving from the “general” exhortation for cooperation to the “specific” practicalities of what is achievable. And that is the main utility of this book—it is written by practitioners who discuss issues and proffer options that can be used.”

Andrew Forbes, “China and Sea Power in the Twenty-First Century,” International Journal of Maritime History 23.1 (June 2011): 341-46.

“The US Naval Institute Press has, along with the China Maritime Studies Institute at the US Naval War College, published key studies on PRC maritime developments. … The new book by the two institutes, China, the United States and 21st Century Sea Power: Defining a Maritime Security Partnership, takes understanding of the PRC’s maritime ambitions to the next level.”

Gregory R. Copley, “Focus on PLA(N),” Essential Reading: Important New Strategic Literature, Defense & Foreign Affairs Strategic Policy 4 (2011): 16.

“Chinese sea power is very much a concern of U.S. naval strategists and factors in the deliberations of the United States as it attempts to balance its force structure to fight and win high-intensity wars as well as low intensity conflicts. … The[se] papers explore the issue of integrating China into a global maritime security partnership.”

–Richard R. Burgess, Managing Editor, “Books Detail Chinese Naval Strategy,”Seapower 54.7 (July 2011), 49.

“Each year there is one book that stands out from the pack. China, the United States and 21st Century Sea Power… needs to be read by every member of the Australian Naval Institute, not only because it provides a blue-print for naval policy in the Asia-Pacific Century but also because it is one of the few authoritative works that discusses a cooperative alternative to the sensationalist threat driven responses to the rise of China.  …a positive, balanced, thought provoking, and timely study which will no doubt impact upon the relationship between China and the United States over the next twenty years. … This book is highly recommended.”

Gregory P. Gilbert, Air Power Development CentreHeadmark: Journal of the Australian Naval Institute (May 2011).

“The essays, written by experts on both sides of the Pacific, present varied views typical of the spirit of academic freedom that prevails at the Naval War College (despite its governmental sponsorship) and serves as the bedrock of the Naval Institute’s long-respected open forum.”

Lt. Cdr. Thomas J. Cutler, USN (Ret.), Notable Naval Books of 2010,” U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings 137:5 (May 2011): 64-69.

“a fine and very highly recommended read, not to be missed.”

–“The Military Shelf,” Wisconsin Book Watch, Midwest Book Review, 6.2 (February 2011).

“This volume presents an analysis of how the United States’ new maritime strategy will affect the international system, and particularly how it will affect relations with China. It argues that extensive US–China maritime-security cooperation is both possible and desirable.”

–“Brief Notices: Asia-Pacific,” Survival, 53.1 (February–March 2011): 199-200.

“The attempt by the good folks at the US Naval War College should be applauded – the impact of this important work will move from academia to shape the policy between two great nations and half the world.”

Xinhui, China Defense Blog, 5 January 2011.


Andrew S. Erickson, China, the United States, and 21st-Century Sea Power,” Interview on John Batchelor Show, 77 WABC Radio New York, 5 February 2011.

Go to section 18:13-34:44 of the podcast to hear the interview.