Chinese aims in the South China Sea

By James Goldrick*

There are certain themes and contradictions inherent in the national military strategy of China in the South China Sea.

In many ways, the American label of “a great wall of sand” that was applied to the artificial islands in the South China Sea (SCS) encapsulates a key element of Chinese thinking. The same desire to protect China from external threats that produced the Great Wall has been extended into the South China Sea. It is significant that a Chinese senior officer once expressed surprise at the American label of “anti-access, area denial” regarding Chinese maritime strategy and remarked that the Chinese called what they were doing “coastal defence.”

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