The PLA Navy, like the rest of China's armed forces, was historically structured, trained and equipped by the Soviet Union, and grew up on an accompanying doctrine, said Tom Shugart, an adjunct senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security in Washington. D.C.
Its future will be "much more oceanic," he told Newsweek. "They're already a blue-water navy. Now it's a question of becoming a world-class blue-water navy."
"By every measure but sheer naval tonnage—they've already got the numbers—China is the world's premier maritime power. There's no reason to think they aren't going to naturally develop the transoceanic naval power to go with it. And unless you have a huge network of naval bases overseas, it's going to mean carriers," Shugart said.
Beijing's long-term focus, he said, will likely be on the Indian Ocean, where critical shipping lanes connect China to raw materials from Africa, commercial markets in Europe, and oil and gas from the Middle East.
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