China's Unarmed Arms Race

Beijing's Maritime Build-Up Isn't What It Appears

It’s tempting to conclude, on the basis of China’s recent assertiveness in its near seas, that a naval conflict in Asia is inevitable. Indeed, judging from the military procurement programs initiated by some of China’s neighbors in response -- not to mention Washington’s decision to rebalance its military efforts toward Asia as part of its so-called pivot -- that seems to be precisely what the United States and its allies in the region have concluded.

But before blaming Beijing for initiating an arms race, it’s worth taking a closer look at its policies. Anyone who does will discover that China’s assertiveness usually isn’t armed at all.

First, a little context. China is currently undergoing a huge strategic shift to the maritime domain. This should be seen as the natural progression of a developing power as it moves from seeing itself as a land

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