What Are China's Military Ambitions?

Article/Op-Ed in Esquire
July 20, 2017

Robert Bateman wrote for Esquire about China's maritime expansion, including the Horn of Africa:

The problem for the Chinese is less one of immediate access, and more one of ultimate freedom. In particular, even once they reach the open ocean, they are effectively isolated to some degree. This is because in order to reach the natural resources and markets that have so dramatically expanded Chinese economic fortunes, a gigantic proportion of their shipping must pass through one of two straits well beyond their territorial waters. The Sunda and Malacca Straits, in particular, are nightmares for Chinese strategists; yet they must use them to get to Middle Eastern oil, fishing grounds on the coastlines of Africa (their own are nearly fished out), and the resources of the interior of Africa, to say nothing of the markets in all of those places as well as Europe.
The Chinese have been pursuing an incremental yet sustained maritime expansion for more than 30 years. In this, we American strategists envy them in that we can only dream of such political consistency as to devise, and actually execute, a plan that would take at least 50 years to reach fruition.