Full Episode - The PLA Navy: Developing rapidly on its 70th anniversary
By Robert Lawrence Kuhn
In President Xi Jinping's grand vision of China, the increasing power and prestige of the Chinese military, the People's Liberation Army, the PLA, plays no small part. Considering China's economic growth, it is of little surprise to witness the PLA's rapid modernization and growth.
What is especially probative is the differential development of the PLA Navy, growing faster than the other military services. By all standards, now, on its 70th anniversary, China's Navy is now the second largest in the world. 
Why does China, which traditionally focused on land armies, need such a large navy? What are the PLA Navy's missions and tasks? What are its challenges? The world is watching, with hope and, to be frank, with fear.
I believe that one way to encourage the hope, and to allay the fear, is to be transparent: to provide an honest accounting of PLA Navy ships and resources, and to present the country's realistic game plan of PLA Navy missions and strategies.
Navy's frigate Huangshan (1st,L) from the Chinese People's Liberation Army. / Xinhua Photo

Navy's frigate Huangshan (1st,L) from the Chinese People's Liberation Army. / Xinhua Photo

Fear increases with uncertainty and decreases with transparency.
China is becoming a major naval power – and nothing will stop it. Chinese leaders state that PLA growth will not pose a threat to other countries. That's why China is being – and should be – more candid and open in discussing its naval capabilities and prospects.
From China's perspective, its core interests are clear: safeguarding national sovereignty, national security and territorial integrity; and protecting the lives of Chinese citizens and huge assets of Chinese companies around the world, especially as these have expanded globally under the Belt and Road Initiative.
In addition, the PLA Navy is called on for non-military contributions: to protect against pirates, terrorists at sea who threaten China's and other country's economic lifelines; to escort UN food and aid fleets; to evacuate overseas Chinese in times of trouble; to providing humanitarian rescue after tsunamis.
In order to accomplish its overall mission, the PLA Navy must be modernized and expanded. Its symbol is the country's new aircraft carriers. President Xi has been unambiguous in vowing that China does not want one inch of territory from other states, but will not retreat from one inch of its historic territory. Put that way, China considers its aircraft carriers as fundamentally defensive. China asserts that its naval forces are not a regional threat; they help assure global peace and stability.