Government & Military

Shen Jinlong

The next face of China’s increasingly muscular strategic vision.

Commander, Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy

Though the South China Sea is perhaps the most dangerous fault line between the United States and China today, direct relations between their two mighty navies used to be a relative bright spot. But in the past two years, as China continues to reclaim land and install military facilities on disputed features despite international calls for it to stop, its activities there have hurtled into U.S. headlines and prompted calls for a tougher U.S. stance.

Enter Shen Jinlong, who in January rode a series of rapid promotions to become the new commander-in-chief of China’s increasingly powerful navy, replacing Wu Shengli. Shen’s international background suggests peace may yet get a chance. In 2014, he led Chinese ships in the country’s first-ever participation in the massive U.S.-led Pacific Rim exercises near Hawaii; in 2016, he attended an influential global symposium at the U.S. Naval War College in Rhode Island. Speaking with the nationalist Chinese outlet Global Times, one anonymous analyst said Shen will likely help increase communication between China’s navy and military forces in other countries. Admiral Wu “is a hard act to follow,” Andrew Erickson, a professor at the U.S. Naval War College, told


. But Admiral Shen “has been groomed for international prime time.” The world must hope he’s ready.

(Photo credit: Samuel Weldin/U.S. Navy)

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