Although China has a vast coastline and more than three million offshore islands, she has always been a continental rather than a maritime power. This interesting book explores the reasons for this orientation and demonstrates that since Mao's death, China has undergone a vast maritime buildup. By early 1981, the P.R.C. commercial fleet was capable of transporting 70 percent of its contracted cargo, a remarkable achievement considering that it could haul virtually nothing in 1970. Moreover, although still technologically backward, the P.R.C. Navy is now the third largest in the world in terms of the numbers of major combatants.