China outlined on Tuesday a strategy to expand the reach of its military, as it continues to press its territorial claims in the South China Sea. The strategy came amid a series of louder warnings to the United States to divert its military presence in the area.
The Chinese navy will shift its focus to “open seas protection” rather than “offshore waters defense” alone, according to a policy document issued by the State Council, China’s government cabinet. Meanwhile, China’s air force will shift its focus from territorial air defense to “both defense and offense.”
The new plan threatens to escalate tensions in a region already closely watching the extent of Beijing’s maritime ambitions. The State Council criticized neighboring countries that take “proactive actions” on reefs and islands claimed by China.
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