Naval War College Review


Sukjoon Yoon


Xi Jinping’s declaration that China should strive to become a “true maritime power” (海洋强國) has been much discussed in the context of China’s “peaceful rise” (和平崛起) and the pursuit of the “Chinese dream” (中国夢). 1 Although there is, at face value, nothing quite new about Xi’s exhortation to the Chinese leadership, his remarks need to be understood against a rather complex background of situations, policies, and aspirations if their full significance is to be appreciated. Xi’s policy is not just about geographic dispositions but needs to be seen in terms of U.S. Navy captain Alfred Thayer Mahan’s sea-power theory—the “neo- Mahanian standard,” as scholars of the U.S. Naval War College have termed it. 2 This issue bridges the China of the past and modern China; as a central pillar of Xi’s grand national strategy, China’s maritime power is a matter of extraordinary importance for its future.