New horizons and internal reforms:
The regional implications of China’s military posture
The Finnish Institute of International Affairs
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At a rhetorical level, China adheres to the idea that it has
a model for a "new type of great power relations”, indicating that its rise
will not lead to a major power conflict. This idea becomes less and less clear
with each move China makes in developing military operability in long-distance
What is clear, however, is that in China’s domestic security
conceptualization regime security will always be in the first place – an idea
embedded in the current regime’s reforms of security institutions.
China’s first military strategy, published in 2015,
emphasizes the role of the navy in "managing the seas and oceans and protecting
maritime rights and interests”. This strategy now has multiple tangible
manifestations: China has started building a naval base in Djibouti situated in
the Horn of Africa, and is also building its first operational aircraft
carrier. The navy is being reformulated as an elite force and Chinese marines
are gradually being trained for long-distance operations.
According to President Xi Jinping, the country is conducting
the largest military reform since 1949. In addition to merging administrative
units with the Central Military Commission, reforms completed so far include
forming new military regions. The motivation for the reforms is to "establish a
coordinated system to better enable modern warfare” but also to consolidate
Party control over the military.