The People’s Republic of China (PRC) needs to develop capabilities that allow it to secure its global economic interests and trade routes as well as to defend against or deter other great powers, should the need arise. China’s economic performance is crucial for the ruling Chinese Communist Party’s legitimacy and hence economic interests need to be protected. However, China’s economic interests are both regional and global: in 2009 the PRC was the world’s third largest trading power and third largest economy. The latter achievement has relied heavily on trade and, by extension, its sea lines of communication (SLOCs). China has also tasked the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) with protecting the PRC’s maritime interests though it is not yet capable of doing so. Nonetheless, in a December 2006, President Hu Jintao stressed that China is a maritime power and that the PRC “should endeavor to build a powerful people’s navy that can adapt to its historical mission during a new century and a new period”. He went further to say that the PLAN has an “important” and “glorious” responsibility of protecting China’s “authority and security and maintain our maritime rights”.
"Report on Chinese energy security and the role of the PLAN,"
Culture Mandala: The Bulletin of the Centre for East-West Cultural and Economic Studies: Vol. 8
, Article 1.
Available at: http://epublications.bond.edu.au/cm/vol8/iss2/1