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China: Sea Power or Land Power? The New Silk Road Explained

On the 12th of July, the International Court of Arbitration at the Hague awarded the Philippines the decision on the South China Sea.

This was a defeat for China, which refused to participate in the arbitration, arguing that the court had no jurisdiction.

The loss was bitter and the China were furious.

What does it all mean?

The average American is not a China watcher. The American who desires to be well-informed might well ask, what is the significance of the award. An Italian scholar has written a brilliant paper on the discussion of China's foreign policy among the Chinese.

Read Simon Dossi's article here.

It focuses on President Xi Jinping's announcement of the "One Road One Belt" view of geopolitics. Should China be a land or a sea power? What is China's strategic posture in the world especially with the United States announcing its pivot to Asia.

No longer than ten years ago—in the second half of the past decade—China’s policy towards the maritime domain was the object of a great debate that took place publicly, with the involvement of well-known scholars.

The answer was, China should be a land and a sea power.

The fact that China was not a sea power in the past meant that it had not developed like the great maritime powers of Europe and the United States.

This explanation of the New Silk Road is from the official English translation of the document:

"The Belt and Road run through the continents of Asia, Europe and Africa, connecting the vibrant East Asia economic circle at one end and developed European economic circle at the other, and encompassing countries with huge potential for economic development.

The Silk Road Economic Belt focuses on bringing together China, Central Asia, Russia and Europe (the Baltic); linking China with the Persian Gulf and the Mediterranean Sea through Central Asia and West Asia; and connecting China with Southeast Asia, South Asia and the Indian Ocean.

The 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road is designed to go from China’s coast to Europe through the South China Sea and the Indian Ocean in one route, and from China’s coast through the South China Sea to the South Pacific in the other."
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