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The Influence of Mahan upon China's Maritime Strategy

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“Summer Pulse 1904,” an exercise designed to test the ability of the U.S. Navy to operate in multiple theaters simultaneously, excited lively commentary among China's official press. In many cases this commentary drew on the writings of an American naval theorist, Alfred Thayer Mahan. Mahan's writings on sea power and geopolitics spurred the United States to build up its navy at the turn of the 19 th century and to seek out a share of the Asia trade. This essay examines how Mahan is shaping Beijing's geopolitical calculations today and, in particular, its maritime aspirations. Alarmed at the prospect of de jure Taiwanese independence, China is developing the military and naval forces necessary to keep U.S. naval forces at a distance while it prosecutes a Taiwan contingency. Western observers must not dismiss China's bid for Mahanian supremacy in the Taiwan Strait and other East Asian waters.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: The University of Georgia, Athens, GA, USA 2: U.S. Air War College Montgomery, Saskatoon, AZ, USA

Publication date: January 1, 2005

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