CUREJ - College Undergraduate Research Electronic Journal

The People's Liberation Army Navy: The Motivations Behind Beijing's Naval Modernization

Binh Nguyen, University of Pennsylvania

Division: Social Sciences

Dept/Program: Political Science

Document Type: Undergraduate Student Research

Mentor(s): Avery Goldstein

Date of this Version: 01 April 2013



Throughout its history, China has always been a land power with strong continental traditions. As a result, the navy was rarely the subject of attention for the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). Starting in the mid-1990s, however, Beijing started to devote considerable resources to improve the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN). This modernization has been enthusiastically pursued until today and China’s improved maritime capabilities have been catching the attention of the United States and China’s neighbors in East Asia. Countries are wary of Beijing’s intentions in acquiring new fleets, questioning the implications this buildup may have for the security landscape in the region. This thesis aims to contribute to the growing body of literature on Chinese naval modernization by exploring the motivations behind China’s aggressive seaward turn. In addition, this study will assess Beijing’s accomplishments thus far with the program and compare its nautical capabilities with those of the three selected countries with naval presence in East Asia—the Philippines, Japan, and the United States. Based on these considerations, this paper will then discuss the ramifications of Chinese naval modernization for security prospects of the region.


Political Science

Suggested Citation

Nguyen, Binh, "The People's Liberation Army Navy: The Motivations Behind Beijing's Naval Modernization" 01 April 2013. CUREJ: College Undergraduate Research Electronic Journal, University of Pennsylvania,

Date Posted: 10 May 2013




Creative Commons License Articles in CUREJ are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License.