China's New Navy

The Evolution of PLAN from the People's Revolution to a 21st Century Cold War

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Xiaobing Li traces the evolution of the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) by examining its adaptation, modernization, and setbacks in the past sixty years. Based on newly available Chinese sources and personal interviews with retired generals, admirals, and PLA officers, the work offers a rich Chinese perspective on PLAN warfighting history.

The untold operational stories of the Chinese captains, boatswains, sailors, gunners, and naval pilots provide a firsthand look at a naval officer and his crew during the Cold War and beyond. Li’s focus on major battles and important engagements during Chinese naval operations from 1949 to 2009 captures important lessons learned by naval leaders and government officials who faced their opponents at a time when the PLAN underwent a complex transformation—one that has only accelerated in recent years.

China’s New Navy concludes that some early experiences are still relevant to Beijing’s leaders as they consider specific strategic and operational challenges in today’s volatile world. Li redefines and adapts such strategic Cold War concepts as nuclear deterrence and local warfare to be meaningful in today’s strategic context, one in which PLAN is ready to open fire first in a defensive offense against other sea powers like the U.S. Navy.

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Editorial Reviews

“Xiaobing Li delivers a groundbreaking account of the Chinese Cultural Revolution and China’s People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN), as well as the development of the PLAN Air Force, PLAN actions in the Vietnam War, and PLAN’s role in the 1970s South China Sea conflicts. This important and timely work covers the PLAN from its organizational development and operational perspectives during the Cold War up through its rapid transformation into the largest naval force in the early 21st century.” —Bernard D. Cole, Capt., USN (Ret.), author of China’s Quest for Great Power: Ships, Oil, and Diplomacy
"Li Xiaobing’s China’s New Navy is a remarkable resource for analysts, scholars, and citizens wanting to know more about the history, culture, and future of the PLA Navy. Professor Li had access to the PLA’s archives and retired PLA senior officers, and it shows in this superb scholarly work. China’s New Navy is essential reading for understanding the changing military balance in the Pacific."—Robert Haddick, author of Fire on the Water, Second Edition: China, America, and the Future of the Pacific; Visiting Senior Fellow, Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies
“After searching for over a decade on all kinds of accessible Chinese naval sources including interviewing PLA men and Taiwanese leaders, Professor Xiao-bing Li produced this new book. The book outlines the PLA Navy’s operations in the context of the history of the People’s Republic. It is comprehensive and in-depth. While unveiling the dynamics behind the PLA Navy’s rapid growth, it demonstrates holistically the formidable challenge that the U.S Navy is facing. "—Sherman Xiaogang Lai, author of A Springboard to Victory: Shandong Province and the Chinese Communist Military and Financial Strength, 1937-1945
“In China’s New Navy, Xiaobing Li brings his deep knowledge of Chinese military history to bear on an issue of current interest—the  development of China’s naval strategy in the Xi Jinping era. Li’s use of examples from operational history to analyze the development of naval strategy helps the reader to bridge the gap between theory and practice. This approach makes the book of value to serious scholars while remaining accessible to the non-specialist reader.”—Harold M. Tanner, Professor of History, University of North Texas

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