Kiel Seapower Fireside Chat: China - A Risen Maritime Power

On 11 December 2017 Captain (ret.) James E. Fanell (USN) was invited by the ISPK's Center for Asia-Pacific Strategy and Security to give a presentation on China’s maritime strategy and naval build-up during the inaugural Kiel Seapower Fireside Chat. Mr. Fanell retired from the U.S. Navy in 2015 concluding a nearly 30-year career as a naval intelligence officer specializing in Indo-Asia Pacific Security Affairs, with an emphasis on the Chinese navy and its operations. His most recent assignment was as the Director of Intelligence and Information Operations for the U.S. Pacific Fleet.

In his talk titled “China – A Risen Maritime Power” Mr. Fanell elaborated on the Chinese security perception, the transformation of the People’s Liberation Army Navy into a blue-water navy and the implications of an expanded mandate for the PLA Navy shifting form coastal defense to power projections far-off the Chinese littoral waters. The audience was particular interested in the Chinese militarization and fortification of artificial islands in the South China Sea, with some features as large in size as the US Navy’s installations in Pearl Harbor. In the following Q&A session Dr. Sarah Kirchberger (ISPK) added, that the strategic importance of this area for China’s submarine based nuclear deterrence and space infrastructure on Hainan is an often overlooked aspect of the South China Sea conflict. After the talk and Q&A academics and naval representatives had the opportunity for a leisurely exchange of ideas.


The Institute for Security Policy at Kiel University (ISPK) provides research, analysis and commentary on conflicts and strategic issues. ISPK is committed to furthering the security policy discourse in Germany and abroad by way of focused, interdisciplinary, policy-oriented research.