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A General Review of the History of China’s Sea-Power Theory Development

Zhang Wei [张炜]

Translated by Shazeda Ahmed

Naval War College Review, Autumn 2015, Vol. 68, No. 4

The Naval War College’s China Maritime Studies Institute (CMSI) uses primary and secondary Chinese-language sources to produce original scholarly research that enables current and future leaders to understand better the complexities of contemporary China’s maritime rise. The below translation offers non–Chinese readers at least a sense of what can be gained by considering Chinese texts in the original. Zhang Wei’s article, originally published in the journal Frontiers (Xueshu Qianyan) in July 2012, is a historiographical survey of the critical Western and Chinese texts and thinkers who have shaped the concept of sea power in China. It gives insight into the richness of the Chinese discourse about sea power. Of particular note is the fact that as Chinese strategists engage in this discourse, they no longer question the utility of sea power; even the country’s most ardent land-power advocates recognize the strategic and economic importance of the sea. On the contrary, the primary question now concerns the form and character Chinese sea power should take. The CMSI hopes this translated article (in which the endnote citations are original) will inform and strengthen the debate in the West about this critical question.

Download the paper at



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