China’s military is expected to expand its offshore presence with the passage yesterday of a wide-ranging new national security law that highlights the country’s need to protect its “overseas interests”.
Besides underscoring the need to protect national territorial sovereignty and integrity, the law passed by the National People’s Congress says it is the military’s duty to defend these overseas interests, through military action if necessary.
This is in addition to the People’s Liberation Army’s responsibilities in peacekeeping, international rescue operations and escort missions.
“The amendment indicates the PLA Navy has been given the challenging and tough long-term task to defend China’s overseas interests. More resources and political support will be required to turn the navy into a capable blue-water force [to carry out these tasks],” Shanghai-based naval expert Ni Lexiong said.
The law also includes a clause saying the state should protect strategic resources and energy reserves , as well as transport channels on sea and land to safeguard the country’s social and economic development.
“In this clause, Beijing is showing its determination to protect its oil lifeline at sea, hinting that it will continue to set up a network of offshore military supply depots in strategic ports to protect its national interests overseas,” Ni said.
The passage of the law comes roughly a month after Beijing signalled in a defence ministry white paper that it would pursue a strategic shift to a more assertive military, transforming its navy from an “offshore defence” power to one committed to “open-seas protection” as well.
Full article: China’s national security law gives PLA mission to protect overseas interests (South China Morning Post)