During the past two decades, China has made substantial progress in modernizing the People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN). Such progress is reflected in the improvements of the PLAN's submarines and surface combatants, mainly in terms of their sensors, stealth, integrated air and missile defense, and operational and strike-range effectiveness. Since late 2008, the PLAN also has been conducting its first sustained naval operations in seas far away from China's shores, as demonstrated in deployment of its counter-piracy task groups to the Gulf of Aden. Moreover, China has considered construction of aircraft carriers, and openly debated the establishment of overseas bases for maintaining a naval presence in the "far oceans."
Scanning the Horizon for 'New Historical Missions'
The Chinese Navy is the special beneficiary of its government's embrace of 'externalization.'
By Nan Li