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The Sources of China's Naval Conduct

Tensions have been steadily rising in the Pacific as China and her neighbors butt heads over disputed territories in the South and East China Sea. While the U.S. has tried to dampen tensions, Captain James Fanell, a top intelligence adviser to the U.S. Pacific Fleet, used what the Lowry Institute's Sam Roggeveen described as "bracing" language when describing China's naval ambitions at a recent conference. According to Fanell:

"...China is knowingly, operationally and incrementally seizing maritime rights of its neighbours under the rubric of a maritime history that is not only contested in the international community but has largely been fabricated by Chinese government propaganda bureaus in order to 'educate' the populous about China's rich maritime history, clearly as a tool to sustain the Party's control."

James Goldrick, a retired Rear Admiral in the Royal Australian Navy explains China's approach:

The danger is that a combination of China's self-image as the Middle Kingdom and continentalist ideas of strategy may manifest themselves in efforts to create what can only be described as an ever extending 'Great Wall over the Sea'. This is why the territorial concepts which are sometimes mentioned in relation to the South China Sea (in particular the 'nine dashed line') should be of such concern, as should some of the recent ideas about the way in which offshore oil platforms might be employed as instruments of sovereignty.

Basically, Goldrick argues that China views the seas as "blue territory" and not a "commons" accessible to all.