China's increasing influence has surpassed that of an emerging power and now directly confronts the United States' (U.S.) interests within the Pacific and throughout the world. The People's Republic of China (PRC) ascendancy as a world power will be the greatest strategic challenge that faces the United States over the next century. Historically a major land power, China has embarked on a massive build-up of naval forces to counter U.S. maritime power in the region, provide security for her national economic interests, and demonstrate her political power throughout the region and the world. This naval expansion appears to go beyond simply challenging U.S. maritime capability; rather, this increase may be part of a complex plan of military expansion, economic development, and political hegemony. While China's rise to superpower status presents a broad range of national and international challenges and opportunities, a key insight into Sino ambitions may be obtained through careful analysis of the People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN). These objectives have strategic consequences for the U.S., and America's response to these challenges will affect this nation's ability to compete economically, influence the region politically, and if necessary, respond militarily.