China Looks to the Sea: A Historical Analysis of Geopolitical Strategy

  • Benjamin W. Juvelier Vanderbilt University


China is rapidly developing into one of the most powerful states in the international system. To take its place as a regional hegemon, and a true international giant, one of the most important steps for China was to modernize and drastically expand its navy. Over the past three decades, it has done this. Since the opening up of the People’s Republic of China in the 1970s and Deng Xiaoping’s modernizations of the 1980s, China and the United States have been on a militaristic and economic collision course in East Asia. By looking at 19th century Chinese history, I elucidate the “century of humiliation” experienced by China and how strategic naval failures during this time period are still providing lessons to modern naval strategists. I also look for a comparative example to Imperial Germany, and examine the strategic failures of a similar search for world power. My strategic analysis of the expansion of Chinese naval power concludes by providing a basis by which to compare the United States and China in an impending clash between these two powerful nations.

Author Biography

Benjamin W. Juvelier, Vanderbilt University
Vanderbilt University Class of 2013 History and German Studies, majors World Politics, minor
How to Cite
JUVELIER, Benjamin W.. China Looks to the Sea: A Historical Analysis of Geopolitical Strategy. Vanderbilt Undergraduate Research Journal, [S.l.], v. 9, aug. 2013. ISSN 1555-788X. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 20 aug. 2019. doi:
Humanities and Social Sciences


China; Navy; Naval History; Military Strategy