As China continues its comprehensive military modernization program, the 2015 Annual Report to Congress on Military and Security Developments Involving the PRC, published by the Office of the Secretary of Defense, has expressed concerns that Chinas military modernization has the potential to reduce core U.S. military technological advantages. In order to put this concern into a broader context, this thesis asks: how does Chinas navy compare to navies of existing powers? With Chinas naval expansion in mind, this thesis compares the Peoples Liberation Army (Navy) (PLAN) to other modern naval powers to determine if Chinas force structure resembles a regional navy that is built primarily for power projection, sea denial, or sea line of communications (SLOC) defense. Comparative case studies are used to contextualize Chinas naval modernization by identifying characteristics of archetypal navies built for sea denial, power projection, and SLOC defense. The Royal Swedish Navy is analyzed as a navy that specializes in sea denial, the French Navy is analyzed as a navy that specializes in power projection, and the Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force is analyzed as a navy that specializes in SLOC defense. This thesis finds that China is primarily pursuing a maritime strategy centered on SLOC defense, but is also capable of employing a sea denial strategy in its near seas.