The People's Republic of China is in the midst of a far-reaching military modernization program. Modernization of the PLA Navy, an arm of the People's Liberation Army, is a part of this effort. The PLA Navy seeks control of local seas. This has both short- and long-term political implications for the region and for the United States. The United States cannot prevent a sovereign power from building a modern defense force, but it can maintain the military balance and peace in the region by keeping the U.S. Pacific Fleet superior to the PLA Navy. This paper examines the nature and capabilities of today's PLA Navy, and makes observations concerning recent efforts at modernization. First, the paper discusses People's War, since it is the underlying doctrine that molded the shape and mission of today's PLA Navy. Next, the paper provides a description of the PLA Navy's strengths, weaknesses, and current capabilities. The paper also discusses the recent expansion of China's economy, for recent trends have had a dramatic impact on the thought behind People's War, the nation's political ambitions, and consequently, the PLA Navy's capabilities and missions. It appears that as China's economy and standing in global trade grow, so too does the importance of the PLA Navy. This paper examines some specific projects in progress to modernize the Chinese fleet. Finally, the paper makes an estimate of the future nature and capability of the PLA Navy. Future roles for its navy are tied to China's political goals. Here lie implications for the United States and its Navy.