Dr B Thomas (Special Correspondent)
Several power dynamics are taking place internally in the Communist party ruling China. Still,regardless of the internal issues, Beijing desires to conquer the economic front when it comes to Delhi.
In Asia, Delhi is Beijing’s biggest competitor on the economic front.Delhi is also the only rival of Beijing when it comes to geo-strategy. China has been changing the Middle Kingdom into an “Eden of wild capitalism”under the veil of peaceful development of China.China has become a significant power in the world today.
In the next 30-40 years, China wants to become the leader in world affairs and trade.The intention to become a global economic leader can be seen by its assertion of policies related to India.This article talks about how China encircled India through various ports and the impact of this action.
The Indian Ocean Littoral
The western part of the Indian Ocean can be delimited according to certain boundaries and maritime points.
According to this delimitation, the Indian Ocean Littoral comprises the following countries: Djibouti, India, Iran, Kenya, Madagascar, Mozambique,Oman, Pakistan,Seychelles, Somalia,South Africa,Sri Lanka,Comoros, Tanzania, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen.
Let us discuss the impact of the Chinese actions on the Indian Littoral.
The Middle East and Africa are major suppliers of oil for China.All of these imports are done by sea. The fuel travels from many navigational choke points, such as the Strait of Malacca.
China’s growth is caused by the continuous increase in energy demand.But the import by the sea makes China dependent on International sea routes.
SLOC refers to the sea lines of communication. Securing these lines is essential for China.China intends to reduce its dependence on limited energy suppliers.
American analysts have named China’s geo-political strategy the “String of Pearls.” With the increasing need for energy in China, foreign oil imports are essential; hence, this policy is gaining traction.
String of Pearls
China intends to build a massive network of naval bases and ports in various countries.This strategy is known as the String of Pearls.As mentioned above, the majority of China’s trade passes through several navigational choke points like the Strait of Malacca,Lombok Strait,and the Strait of Hormuz.This strategy is created to protect the trade interests of China.
China’s military presence or political influence makes up each “pearl” in this String of Pearls. The string stretches from Gwadar to Hainan Island. China claims that the development of the network is strictly for trade.
The non-confrontational nature of the rise of these geo-political “pearls” has resulted in no evidence that suggests any malpractice or imperial intentions.
China is slowly building a presence along the sea lines of communication through strategic relationships.
The publication of Energy Futures In Asia: Final Report made the phrase “String of Pearls” popular in 2004.The term, however, was already in use before that.This report suggested that China intends to contain its hold in India and expand its influence in the Indian Ocean.
A greater influence in these regions would help the country reap the maximum benefits. China expected to raise its military and civilian infrastructure in these areas known as the “pearls.” The “String of Pearls” also includes Myanmar and Bangladesh.
The People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) has concerns about protecting the sea lines of communication to keep the navigational choke points open.
These choke points are relevant in ensuring the smooth transport of energy resources and protecting trade.
Although China’s strategic expansion is consistent with PLAN, its powerful armed forces may be a cause of concern. China has modernized armed forces and military capabilities that should not be ignored.
The movement into Myanmar from the Chinese border is easy as most of its mountain ranges go from north to south. Myanmar’s major river streams also run from north to south, controlling the movement from the Indian border.
China has been promoting the development of roads southwards from its border. This move aims to gain access to the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea.
China would achieve this by bypassing the Strait of Malacca through Myanmar. China wants to grow its economic trade in the ethnic ceasefire areas of Myanmar and gain stability in the country. China also signed an agreement to import old and gas without sending its tankers through the Strait of Malacca as it gets blocked easily.
The President of China, Xi Jinping, announced many multi-billion dollar deals in Myanmar in January of 2022.
The China-Myanmar friendship has troubled the policymakers of India. The concern arises due to the Bay of Bengal in Myanmar. India is already surrounded by Chinese ports and influence across the Indian Ocean.
Developing a new deep-water port may allow China to further encircle India. Myanmar is trying to jumpstart its economy and build infrastructure. This was the first visit by a Chinese leader to Myanmar in 20 years, and China announced big investments in Myanmar.
Out of all the deals signed by the two countries, the deep-water port at Kyaukpyu is the most concerning to the Indian authorities.
It will further Beijing’s geo-political hold. The new deep-water port is just a couple hundred miles from the Indian Islands on the east. The port on the western coast of Myanmar gives China easy access to India.
Impact on India
By acquiring ports all over the western Indian Ocean and Myanmar, China has encircled India by a “String of Pearls.”
This has a major impact on India. China is developing more firepower with its vessels, ships, and submarines. The development of more firepower is a threat to Indian maritime security. The presence of China all across the Indian border poses a threat to India through the sea.
Since many Indian resources may have to be directed towards security and defense, this would mean a hit to the Indian economy.