It is reasonable and necessary for China to strengthen its maritime power as it is becoming stronger, Chinese experts said after People's Daily published three articles on a whole page to emphasize the importance of building China into a strong maritime country.
"Building China as a maritime power fits China's development, the global trend and is the necessary choice for realizing the Chinese Dream of the national rejuvenation," read one article published on People's Daily on Sunday under the topic "It's about time to build a strong maritime country."
The three articles reviewed China's maritime development since the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) in 2012, including promoting marine ecological protection, safeguarding integrity and the national interests as well as launching cooperation on disputed issues.
The authors of the three articles included Liu Jixian, former head of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) Academy of Military Science in Beijing.
With development of the Belt and Road initiative, massive personnel, resources and property are expanding to other countries and some countries are facing problems like war and terrorism, Liu wrote. Thus it was urgent that China strengthen its maritime power to protect overseas interests, he noted.
"Building a powerful maritime strength is the strategic mainstay of China's development," he said.
"These articles sent a clear message that China will invest more efforts in strengthening its ability to safeguard sea routes and overseas interests," Xu Guangyu, a retired major general and senior adviser to the China Arms Control and Disarmament Association, told the Global Times.
"More overseas logistic bases will be built in the future to assist the PLA Navy to conduct operations globally."
China has one overseas base in Djibouti to supply its fleet conducting piracy patrols in the Gulf of Aden.
"There is no need to hide the ambition of the PLA Navy: to gain an ability like the US Navy so that it can conduct different operations globally," Xu said. "The US is a global power with massive overseas interests. Considering that China has already become a global economic power, it is entirely reasonable for China to boost its maritime power."
The Djibouti base "won't be the last," he said. "More overseas bases will be built on different continents for sure, but they are not military bases and not based on a military alliance with other countries. Instead, they are based on partnership and not targeting any other country," Xu said.
China's maritime ambition is not the same as Western countries when they built their sea hegemony in the past, said Wang Yiwei, director of the Institute of International Affairs at the Renmin University of China in Beijing.