The Chinese People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN)’s recent accomplishments are impressive but have not gone beyond ‘pocket excellence’, as its overall structure and equipment are still out of date. However, the PLAN now has ships and powerful weapons that enable it to extend its combat range and engage its foes in a relatively large-scale maritime campaign beyond the Yellow Sea—its traditional battlefield. Depending on the nature of operations, it may already be able to carry out blue water missions around the first island chain in the West Pacific. Yet this article argues that due to its inherent weaknesses the PLAN has so far positioned itself as a regional navy, not a global one, in terms of its missions and capability building. On the other hand, the notion of a regional navy is open ended. As the PLAN acquires more ocean-going warships, its combat reach will incrementally expand, and its current defensive posture will acquire more teeth.