China's Maritime Gray Zone Operations

  • Subject: China and the Asia Pacific
  • Format:
  • Pages:
  • Published:
    March 15, 2019
  • ISBN-10:
  • ISBN-13:
  • Product Dimensions:
    9 × 6 × 1 in
  • Product Weight:
    24 oz
Hardcover $80.00
Member Price $64.00 Save 20%
Book: Cover Type


China's maritime gray zone operations represent a new challenge for the U.S. Navy and the sea services of our allies, partners, and friends in maritime East Asia. There, Beijing is waging what some Chinese sources term a war without gunsmoke. Already winning in important areas, China could gain far more if left unchecked. One of China's greatest advantages thus far has been foreign difficulty in understanding the situation, let alone determining an effective response. With contributions from some of the world's leading subject matter experts, this volume aims to close that gap by explaining the forces and doctrines driving China's paranaval expansion, operating in the gray zone between war and peace.


The book covers China's major maritime forces beyond core gray-hulled Navy units, with particular focus on China's second and third sea forces: the white-hulled Coast Guard and blue-hulled Maritime Militia. Increasingly, these paranaval forces, and the gray zone in which they typically operate, are on the frontlines of China's seaward expansion.

About the Author

Editorial Reviews

“The book edited by Andrew S. Erickson and Ryan D. Martinson on Chinese maritime operations which they label as operating in the ‘gray zone’ is a first rate piece of work…. I would highly recommend reading this important book and thinking through what it teaches us, or challenges us to think about in terms of the much broader spectrum of crisis management we are facing.” —
"An informative and striking book, which provides many eye-opening thoughts on China's crafty and worrisome 'gray zone' strategy. A great focus is placed on practical countermeasures.... A good guideline for the planning and operations of frontline sailors." —Yoji Koda, Retired Vice Admiral JMSDF and Former Commander in Chief, JMSDF Fleet
"Andrew Erickson and Ryan Martinson have established themselves as two of America's most knowledgeable analysts of the PLA Navy and China's naval strategy. Their new work on China's maritime gray zone operations deepens our understanding of Chinese maritime operations that are neither peace nor war but that could have a profound impact on the western Pacific, Japan, and the role of the U.S. in Asia." —Stephen P. Rosen, Beton Michael Kaneb Professor of National Security and Military Affairs, Harvard University
"Who needs the CIA? Maritime competition represents the front lines in the struggle for influence between China and the United States. Gray hulls are not the only way Beijing tries to shift the balance. China's Maritime Gray Zone Operations provides as comprehensive an assessment of the challenge as one might expect from Langley." —James Jay Carafano, Ph.D., The Heritage Foundation
"Many fret and opine about China's gray zone behavior and strategy, yet few know and understand what is at play and in play in that space between peace and war. China's Maritime Gray Zone Operations is a timely and extraordinarily valuable resource for both new and experienced operators and policymakers who will navigate the gray zone challenge in the years ahead." —Adm. Gary Roughead, USN (Ret.), Hoover Institution Fellow and former Chief of Naval Operations
"How can the lightly armed white-hulled and blue-hulled ships of China's coast guard and maritime militia defeat the heavily armed, gray-hulled navies of the U.S. and its allies? Nowhere is this urgent question explored more exhaustively than in this incisive book. It should serve as a wake-up call for the American military." —J. William Middendorf, Former Secretary of the Navy
"This is an excellent account of how China is using its navy, coast guard, and maritime militia to expand its control and use of adjoining sea areas and exclude others from their use of sea areas legally recognized." —Andrew W. Marshall, retired, former Director of Net Assessment, Department of Defense
“If you have an interest in the future of geopolitical affairs, particularly in Asia, the book provides a cornerstone of what is happening now in addition to where things are likely headed.” —Virtual Mirage
“An essential read for those seeking to understand and achieve the type of asymmetric offshore counter balancing that regional powers with the U.S. are likely to require if they are live long and prosper alongside the Dragon's den.” —The NAVY
China’s Maritime Gray Zone Operations offers the reader a brilliant opportunity to traverse contemporary considerations of the South China Sea’s gray zone mechanism…. The reader can use the publication as a jumping-off point to dive into the lesser told but indeed rich history of gray zone operations exercised elsewhere around the world. Highly recommended reading.” - Australian Naval Institute
“This book would be of interest to the French defense community.” —Politique étrangère
“China’s naval operations in the maritime gray zone—patient, purposeful, relentless—embody Maoist patience, buying time to maneuver from a position of relative weakness to one of strength. The papers collected in this new work, China’s Maritime Gray Zone Operations, can help us better understand this maneuvering and meet the challenges the West already faces—challenges that only will grow as China’s naval strength and presence grow.” —Naval War College Review
“This collection is without doubt the most comprehensive source available on the subject, providing a uniformly excellent quality of scholarship…. As a guide to understand the slow-burning crisis in East Asian seas so far, China's Maritime Gray Zone Operations is highly recommended.” —Marine Policy
“An excellent book about the growing aggressive behaviour of China´s Gray Zone Strategy. It can give some impetus for a still needed European discussion about this Region of concern for the world.” —Deutsches Maritimes Kompetenz Netz
“[An] excellent book.” —The Northern Mariner / Le marin du nord
China’s Maritime Gray Zone Operations offers the reader a brilliant opportunity to traverse contemporary considerations of the South China Sea’s grey zone mechanism…. Highly recommended reading.” —The Naval Review