Chinese President Hu Jintao says his country needs a powerful navy that is prepared to carry out missions at any time.
Speaking at a Communist Party meeting on Wednesday, Mr. Hu urged the navy to continue its efforts to build a "blue water" or deep sea fleet that can adapt to the navy's historic mission.
Mr. Hu's comments were carried on the front-pages of the state-run People's Daily and People's Liberation Daily Thursday with photos of him dressed in an army-green suit.
As head of China's Central Military Commission, Mr. Hu is also the nation's commander-in-chief.
Western naval analysts say that China could use an expanded fleet of new ships and submarines to counter any U.S. intervention if a conflict arose with Taiwan. China says it will attack the island if it declares independence.
Other analysts note that China needs a stronger navy to secure energy supplies and seaborne trade routes. China needs oil and other resources to fuel its booming economy.
Some information for this report was provided by Reuters.