September 18, 2009
China’s People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) has made great strides in recent years as it seeks to come of age. As it seeks to demonstrate greater clout, it also seems to recognize the need to reassure others that the intentions behind its modernization program are peaceful. Accordingly, Beijing claims that its policy of the “harmonious seas” is based on respect for equal access and freedom of navigation for all humanity. However, many remain worried. Conscious of the apprehension its military modernization program is generating, Beijing has decided to counter it with a sophisticated military and defense diplomacy strategy; its naval diplomacy in particular has grown substantially in recent years, and now spans the seven seas.