China: Decoding 'String of Pearls'


Regular Member
Aug 12, 2009
The resent imperil to India in a series of scurrilous editorials in Chinese official media have put Indian contrivers to work overtime. As they say that “smoke from the caves are not for no reasons”. This rhetoric have came up with sinister acts like - China tried to barricad India to get 2.9B $ loan from Asian Development bank, as it contained some 70 million $ for Arunachal Pradesh. More over China didn’t endorsed Indian presence in Country Partnership Strategy(CPS) for yr 2009-12. Issuing Visa’s to Kashmiri separatist without Indian Passport, all this with backdrop of upsurge in Chinese incursion.

China have also reneged on Sikkim promise by recent incursions in Finger area of northern Sikkim. As it was caught constructing a new east-west road through the upper finger area – realising India that never trust the Chicom prevaricators. This act made India to put an extra 30,000 troops all across the Sikkim border with Su’s in Tezpur, on which China fretted as calling the move “India’s unwise military move” - India counterparts choose to remain mum. The issue is not related to this year alone as in 2006 western satellites picked up an conniving land model of 151,500 square kilometres of territory in and around China's Aksai Chin. It’s the same time China have up the ante on Arunachal Pradesh.

While Indian politicians fails to come out of resister legacy, Indian backroomers are up to the task of military assertiveness, apart from surge in troops and Su’s, T-72 have been moved to Assam with reactivation of old airstrips. A strong force of mountaineering troops on the line of famous ‘Ladakh Snow Tigers’ have been raised up – as large as 28 divisions. Recently India also carried out a precise war scenario exercise, codename ‘Divine Matrix’, on the very terrains of Indo-China border from where threat has been muted for a rapid high tech Chinese assault to “teach India a lesson”.

What really China wants with this border status quo? As it keep harping its claims in Arunachal Pradesh. There are two broad reasons for this, first – its strategically important Xinjiang-Tibet highway which cut across the disputed Aksai Chin, is ‘chicken neck’ equivalent to China, from where it connects all the Ali region of western Tibet and overlooks Xinjiang region of Uyghurs, Turkic and Hui ppls. All of them are now in a contravene state. If ever in near future with the facilitation of American pressure, India and Pakistan comes to a settlement of Kashmir dispute then China have to layoff its claws from the Aksai Chin, under UN convention – as it’s a territory which have been gifted by Pakistan as an act of bootlick.
This region also have Karakoram Highway connecting Gilgit -Kashgar to the heart land of Uighur separatists. China obviously doesn’t want this to happen hence this periodic hot air. This territory coming to India will spell deep worry for China.

Second reason is an out ‘n’out Tibet freedom movement. Tawang as we all know is the second largest Buddhist monastery, gives the proud ppls of Tibet the only hope for a free and a self-rule life from the thralls of Red army. His holiness Dalai Lama with ageing and all health problems will one day have to go in the peace of Lord Buddha, his successor most likely will be born outside the oppressive ‘great walls of china’. And if the reincarnated living Buddha comes from India moreover Tawang, it will really put Chinese ill at ease. There is a strong school of thought in China that it must take Tawang by force and install a Chicom comrade at the helm of monastery, hence claim on all of Arunachal Pradesh is just a upper bargain position by the canny Chinese.

But in any future confrontation between India and China, its not the calm mountains but the rip-roaring Oceans which gonna decide who rules the realms – Indian Ocean, that’s where the real great power competition is being played. The ‘string of pearls’ as we all are hearing about it, from Laem Chabang in Thailand to Gwadar in Pakistan, China is aggressively pursuing its footing on Indian Ocean. Recently it has also re-visited its most ambitious Kra Canal Project, which would link the South China Sea directly to the Indian Ocean. A resolute China wants its hegemony on Oil and trade routes in Indian Ocean.

Indian response is also swift and thought out on this chess board as can be learned by recent Naval doctrine . India now have three full braced up naval commands for the very purpose. First – Visakhapatnam, a naval command to safeguard against any threat from eastern theatre and to act as a feeder to Andaman and Nicobar. Second - INS Kanwar and Third – Port Blair, know as ‘Choke point’

This map shows about the Nazi Uboat positions in Indian Ocean effectively choking allied forces a way through. Indian being a littoral power will have no problem to replicate this. India have also deployed first of its Heron UAV for Malacca straits. India blessed with proximity
worlds most busy and important oil and trade route, is well placed in this paradigm

Apart from its land bases, India is now going after naval installation and pacts on foreign land.
India operates a listening station in Mauritius, India also supports Mauritius claim on Diego Garcia.
India signed bilateral pact with Maldives to use its naval bases ,
Setup a Listening station in Madagascar
Naval pact with Mozambique
Listening station and defence MOU with Seychelles

Moreover India also have a monitoring station in Mongolia to listen on Chinese installations on eastern side, most of there space activities are going on there.

India must also work with southeastern asian countries as they also have major maritime disputes with China. A close maritime co-operation with asian countries like leasing Indian Airforce base to Singapore for five yrs, training Malaysian pilots, can make a collective effort to stop Chinese aggressive designs. Japan’s pressing for a ‘quadrilateral grouping of democracies’ is such a alliance which it is trying to initiate without the influence of unkil sam, and is more than willing to co-operate with India in every field. Winds from recent close Indo-Japanese talks suggest that India and japan can develop an Aegis like system. A jittery china is now trying to arm twist Australia and wants to be a party to 33-member Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS) – to which India abrasively refused.

It is not that both India and china only have enemocity to offer, recent Copenhagen unwritten alliance shows that an Indo-Sino confederation can save the interests of a billion poor ppls. Both India and China have to struggle to save guard there century old technics and practices from western patents. These patents are at the heart of western economy surge after the second world war. India with just more than 2% and china just more than 5%, can’t even make 10% of world trade but half the world population. Indian and Chinese share of world trade have grown only 1% in all these yrs as compared to 5% bilaterally. No doubt that an Indo-Sino economic alliance will beat the world, if only Red Army generals are listening and stops contriving to ‘teach its competitors a lesson’.

Till then the answer by an Indian soldier to the Chinese graffiti of 'MiddleYellow River' inside Indian borders is a good old Indian graffiti on there side, reads – ‘’Yahan @#%&$# karna mana hai”

Jai Hind.
Jai Shri Ram.


Super Mod
Mar 24, 2009
Country flag
The Strings of Pearls are nothing but a way to break any choke India might apply to Chinese supply in the events of hostility. The Chinese navy is not that powerful enough to use these pearls as bases against India. All the stated pearls are in easy range of Indian fighter bombers and missiles.


Senior Member
Aug 13, 2009
The Strings of Pearls are nothing but a way to break any choke India might apply to Chinese supply in the events of hostility. The Chinese navy is not that powerful enough to use these pearls as bases against India. All the stated pearls are in easy range of Indian fighter bombers and missiles.

but for me this whole 'string of pearls' theory seems a bit farfetched.

i wonder whether myanmar or srilanka will have the guts to face upto india post allowing that. they have to live in the neighbourhood afterall.

their only solace will be pakistan and gwadar but i doubt its viability too considering US in the vicinity.

at the most they may install listening posts to monitor the movement of indian ships and fighters.


Senior Member
Feb 23, 2009
To every pearl that China has in the Indian ocean, there is a string that encircles it:

For example, India's intent and SriLanka's invitation to develop the strategic Kankasanthurai port, as a counterweight to the Chinese-developed Service and Industrial port of Hambantotta.

From a strategic viewpoint, the location is beautiful!:

To China's $167 million highway project in Bangladesh, there is the Asian Highway (AH) network agreement, already accepted by the government of Bangladesh in principle under ESCAP-crafted laws, the proposed Siddhirganj gas project in Bangladesh to be O&M'ed by the NTPC and the very likely interconnection of the power gird with Bangladesh that is in the offing, the import of 400-500MW of power from India under an MoU to be signed in two days , and ofcourse, the Bangladesh government itself.

To China's attempts at ties with the Maldives, there is the historic agreement to bring Maldives under our security net, the agreement to set up radars on all 26 of its atolls, networked with the Indian coastal radar system, the agreement to carry out regular Dornier sorties over the island nation to look out for suspicious movements or vessels, and the supervision of the Southern Naval Command, which will overlook the inclusion of the Maldives into the Indian security grid.

There is also the Free Trade Agreement, and the deal to supply coastal security equipment to Mauritius.

I don't want to go too far, but there is also the deal with Madagascar to lease and operate a "sophisticated" monitoring station for anti-piracy operations off the coast of Africa and the gulf of Aden, activated in 2007.

And also an agreement with Oman, that has two islands: Jaza'ir Khuriya Muriya and Jazirat Masirah in the Indian ocean, that calls for regular joint air and naval exercises and various forms of 'maritime cooperation'. And ofcourse an agreement with Qatar, that has been described as "just short of stationing troops" in that region.


Senior Member
Apr 11, 2010
Country flag
How India is undoing China’s string of pearls

itin Gokhale / Defence Editor, NDTV.

One of the least understood and less scrutinised facets of India's diplomacy is perhaps New Delhi's 'Look East' policy, now nearly two decades old.

Launched during Prime Minister P V Narasimha Rao's regime primarily to try and integrate India's newly liberalising economy with that of the Asian 'tigers', that policy is now quietly evolving into a more robust military-to-military partnership with important nations in that region.

Over the past three months alone, top Indian military leadership has made important trips to key nations in South-East and East Asia — Vietnam, South Korea, Japan Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand and Singapore.

Indian Army chief General V K Singh was in Vietnam in July, furthering an already strong strategic relationship. General Singh's visit was the first in a decade by an Indian army chief.

Apart from meeting his Vietnamese counterpart, Deputy Chief of General Staff Pham Hong Loi, the Indian army chief discussed with Vietnam's National Defence Minister Phung Quang Thanh, the road map to implement the 2009 memorandum of understanding between the two ministries of defence.

Two areas where India and Vietnam will focus their immediate attention were training of military personnel and dialogue between experts on strategic affairs on both sides.

General Singh's visit will be followed by Defence Minister A K Antony's mid-October trip to Hanoi when he will participate in the first-ever regional meeting of political leaders in the defence field.

As the current chair of ASEAN, Vietnam has invited India to the ASEAN+8 defence ministers meeting. The 10-member ASEAN will be joined by Australia , China, India, Japan, New Zealand , Russia , South Korea, and the United States at that important conclave.

Although Indo-Vietnam political and diplomatic ties can be traced back to Jawaharlal Nehru's time, it was only in the post 1990s that the two nations decided to build and strengthen military-to-military relationship.

This development was a result of two main reasons — one historical, the other contemporary.

To begin with, both India and Vietnam had borne the brunt of Chinese aggression — India in 1962 and Vietnam in 1979.

And two, the collapse of the Soviet Union, for long a security guarantor for both India and Vietnam in Asia, left New Delhi and Hanoi without an all-weather, all-powerful friend.

Both India and Vietnam, who have long-pending territorial disputes with China thus decided to unite against their common adversary. Located on the edges of South-East Asia, Vietnam is ideally placed to prevent China's expansion into the South China Sea.

So, for over a decade now, India has been providing Vietnam with assistance in beefing up its naval and air capabilities in an attempt to deny China total supremacy in the South China Sea.

Both New Delhi and Hanoi traditionally sourced majority of their military hardware from the erstwhile Soviet Union. That commonality has meant that both can share expertise and resources available with their respective armed forces in terms of handling and maintaining the Soviet-era weaponry.

India, for instance, has repaired and upgraded over 100 MiG 21 planes of the Vietnamese Air Force and supplied them with enhanced avionics and radar systems. Indian Air Force pilots have also been training their Vietnamese counterparts.

The Indian Navy, by far larger than the Vietnamese navy, has been supplying critical spares to Hanoi for its Russian origin ships and missile boats.

After Antony's 2007 visit to Vietnam, the Indian and Vietnamese coast guards have engaged in joint patrols, and both navies participated in a joint exercise in 2007.

But Vietnam is not the only nation India is inching closer to in China's immediate neighbourhood.

Antony, who is fast emerging as a quiet but effective player in India's military diplomacy, in early September became the first Indian defence minister ever to visit South Korea, a pro-US, anti-China nation in the vicinity.

He led a top-notch team of military and civil officials like Defence Secretary Pradeep Kumar, Vice-Admiral RK Dhowan, Lieutenant General K T Parnaik, DRDA Chief Controller C K Prahlada, and Sundaram Krishna, special adviser to the defence minister.

The visit was a follow-up on the declaration issued by both countries during President Lee Myung-bak's state visit to New Delhi in January, when it was decided to elevate bilateral relationship to a 'strategic partnership'.

Although nowhere near the level of Indo-Vietnam defence cooperation, the newly evolving India-South Korea partnership is being seen as a vital component of India's game plan to counter China's increasing footprint in the subcontinent.

Seoul is a perfect counter balance to the China-North Korea-Myanmar-Pakistan axis that New Delhi and US regard as a major irritant in the Asia-Pacific region.

Moving eastward, India is actively pursuing deeper defence cooperation with Japan. Last week, for the first time, India is expanding its defence ties with Japan, a newfound strategic partner in the region.

Air Chief Marshal P V Naik, chairman of India's Chiefs of Staff Committee, the senior-most Indian military officer, led an Indian delegation to Japan on September 28 to participate in the first military-to-military talks between the two countries.

Naik's visit comes just weeks ahead of a trip by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to Tokyo in late October.

Naik's visit is a follow-up to Antony's discussions in Japan last year, when the two countries expressed their commitment to contribute to bilateral and regional cooperation, which in other words is an effort to build regional partnerships to counter the growing influence of China.

High level visits apart, the Indian Navy has been quite active in its friendly forays into the Pacific. A flotilla of Indian warships is about to complete a month-long deployment to the Pacific that included visits to Australia, Indonesia, Singapore and Vietnam.

So while Indian strategic thinkers have been busy sounding frequent alarms over China's increasing forays into the Indian Ocean and have often overstated the fears of Beijing's 'String of Pearls' around India, New Delhi's defence establishment has quietly put in place India's own counter measures to woo and bolster China's neighbours as a long-term strategy.

Whatever the consequences of this strategy and counter-strategy, one thing is sure: The Indian Ocean and its periphery are poised to become the new playground for the 21st century version of the Great Game in the years to come.


Tihar Jail
Oct 2, 2009
Krishna likely to open strategic Jaffna, Hambantota consulates in Oct end

New Delhi, Oct. 5 (ANI): External Affairs Minister S M Krishna is likely to inaugurate two Indian consulates in Hambantota and Jaffna during his four-day visit to Sri Lanka in the last week of October.

Buzz up!
The opening of the consulate office in Hambantota is significant in the wake of the Chinese having already established a strategic presence there through the construction of a harbour. The proposed Indian consulate will cover activities in the districts of Galle, Matara, Hambantota and Moneragala.

India has maintained that the Chinese-aided Hambantota project, which opens in November, does not pose any security threat. However, there are concerns in New Delhi over the rising Chinese influence in Sri Lanka.

India has only one consulate in Kandy and the opening of consulates in Jaffna and Hambantotta is an attempt to reach out and spread its sphere of influence to counterweigh China, according to analysts.

Sections of India's strategic community believes Hambantota is part of a Chinese policy to throw a "string of pearls" geographical circle of influence around India and is aimed at counterbalancing and undermining India's natural influence in Sri Lanka.

The port project, which will give alternate access to Chinese goods through the Indian Ocean, was earlier offered to India according to Lankan officials.

China is also developing port facilities in Bangladesh, Myanmar and Pakistan, and has plans for constructing railway projects in Nepal.

China is pumping nearly six billion dollars in the form of grants and funding of projects in Sri Lanka.

To check Beijing's rising influence, New Delhi has also accelerated its aid programme and has offered concessionary credit facilities amounting to about 800 million dollars for the railway projects in Sri Lanka.

The proposed consulate in Jaffna will cover the five districts of the war-ravaged northern province - Jaffna, Killinochchi, Mullaithivu, Vavuniya and Mannar.

The consulate will help rehabilitate and streamline the humanitarian assistance to the displaced Tamils.

India had pledged to build 50,000 houses in the northern and eastern provinces, the Jaffna Cultural Center, the Jaffna Teaching Hospital and the Duraiappah Stadium.

During his expected visit, Krishna will reportedly review progress of Indian-aided projects and is likely to reassure New Delhi's commitment to rebuilding infrastructure in the war-ravaged nation.

He is also expected to call on Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapaksa. By Naveen Kapoor (ANI)


Regular Member
May 26, 2010
I have read that India is Interested in a base in Vietnam called Cam Ranh. Can anybody clarify?


Senior Member
Apr 11, 2010
Country flag
Andaman Command Key To Checkmate China Strategy

India's Tri-Service Command is gradually increasing its assets in order to monitor Chinese strategy in the region.

The command is situated in Andaman and Car Nicobar Islands with Port Blair as its headquarters. Officials from the Andaman Nicobar Command (ANC), confirmed that India is keeping a close watch on the activities of China and other countries in the region.

Though the officials stuck to a pre-planned brief on the sensitive China queries, it was clear the strategically located ANC keeps its antennas up round-the-clock to ensure that the region is well-guarded against external challenges.

"We are looking at developing assets along the islands in the next five years," ANC chief Adm. D.K. Joshi told AVIATION WEEK. "We are at handshaking distance from Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore. No other region has such a contiguous borderline."

Through its "String of Pearls" strategy, China has signaled its intentions in the Malacca Strait by boosting its efforts to build ports in Hambantota (Sri Lanka) and Gwadar (Pakistan). "The Malacca Strait in the Indian Ocean is pivotal for uninterrupted oil and power supplies from the Gulf to China. We are gearing up to modernize our installations and infrastructure in Andaman," Joshi said.

The "String of Pearls" term was coined in a 2003 Booz Allen consultancy report to the Pentagon elaborating China's designs to gain command in the Indian Ocean. The ANC, set-up in 2001, has had its share of teething problems. It marked the first time that such a unique experiment was undertaken by India. An official close to the situation notes that because the three services have their own distinct way of doing things it took some time for all pieces to fall in place.

ANC photo: Satish, Ministry of Defense

Andaman Command Key To Checkmate China Strategy | AVIATION WEEK


Tihar Jail
Oct 2, 2009
The 1962 moment

India must not permit China to misread the CWG disaster and shame for strategic unpreparedness, says N.V.Subramanian.

27 September 2010: China's contempt for India's strategic capabilities and resilience would have doubtless risen after the huge ratty publicity attending the disastrous and shameful Commonwealth Games' organization. Whether or not such a link exists is besides the point (it does not), but there is danger that China will misinterpret such a connection, because it scarcely understands India, Indians, Indian democracy or Indian society.
And when China understands or misunderstands any rival power to be weak, the consequences could be harsh. So it is up to the Manmohan Singh government immediately to correct the picture with China, which is nearly regularly now showing one or the other signs of aggressiveness. The latest according to the wire services today is the doubling of hostile PLA border patrolling in parts of Ladakh where it is embarked upon illegal military infrastructure buildup. In the short- and medium-term too, India has to integrate itself to face China, because it is also undergoing political, military and politico-military transformations of its own that will hugely impact South Asia besides the rest of the world.
China will get a new leadership in twenty-twelve with vice-president Xi Jinping likely succeeding president Hu Jintao and vice-premier Li Keqiang perhaps premier Wen Jiabao. This is the succession picture as it looks now which could alter but seems unlikely. Xi does not fit any of the traditional slots of "populist" or "elitist" although he is both plus a "princeling" and part of the Shanghai faction. Li is more robustly "populist". But both suffer from the handicap of limited international exposure as do others of their generation particularly at a time when China, as the number two economy and a rising superpower, needs a markedly worldly-wise leadership.
This is not to suggest China is entering a phase where it may politically flounder but it certainly increases the responsibility on the existing leadership of Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao to stabilize the country and contain its international concerns before handing over charge. At least some portions of China's current aggressiveness in India's northern and north-eastern borders, in the Indian Ocean, and in the South and East China Sea, may arise from anxieties of the current Chinese leadership seeing the future uncertainties.
China's present aggressiveness also relates to the growing nationalism of the PLA and with the rising profile of the PLA Navy (PLAN), Air Force (PLAAF) and the Second Artillery Corps cutting into the historical pre-eminence of the land army. Because the army increasingly has been deployed in aid to civil authority (in flood and earthquake relief) and in suppressing uprisings in Tibet and Xinjiang, it has gained a considerable upper hand in the political calculus. And since China's economic and strategic security critically depends on free and unimpeded access to international waters, the other non-army PLA forces have shot up the hierarchy of the Central Military Commission.
In a nutshell, the military has become dominant in a logical and organic manner. But at the same time, the Chinese political leadership transformations have been opaque, hard to explain or understand, and the particular transition to Xi-Jinping-Li Keqiang, if it happens, is saturated with imponderables. It is of course dangerous to exaggerate the coming political shakeup in China. But it is also true that the country has to do considerable additional balancing now than ever before to stay on course, which may demand more from the next generation of Chinese leaders than they are capable of delivering. In other words, China has entered a period of flux, where the military while not anywhere close to seizing power is becoming dominant and nationally assertive.
Consequently, countries sharing land borders and seas with China growingly will feel its heat and be singed if they do not foresee and understand the dangers and take robust countermeasures. Specific to India, it would be perilous to let slip an impression abroad -- and especially to China -- that the CWG disaster reveals a lack of political will and somehow profoundly reflects India's strategic unpreparedness. It would not be an overstatement that China will misread a nineteen-sixty-two moment in this.
N.V.Subramanian is Editor, The Public Affairs Magazine-, and writes internationally on strategic affairs. He has authored two novels, University of Love (Writers Workshop, Calcutta) and Courtesan of Storms (Har-Anand, Delhi). Email: [email protected].


Senior Member
Apr 11, 2010
Country flag
China tells defence forum its military growth is no threat

HANOI (AFP): China insisted Tuesday its military growth was no threat as Asian and US defence ministers met in Hanoi for their first top-level regional security forum amid concern over Beijing's might.

"China's defence development is not aimed to challenge or threaten anyone, but to ensure its security and promote international and regional peace and stability," China's Defence Minister Liang Guanglie told his counterparts.

He said China, which has the largest military force in the world has made a "strategic decision" for long-term peaceful development.

"China pursues a defence policy that is defensive in nature," Liang said, endorsing the aims of the new defence ministers' forum led by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

"China is positive and open to regional security cooperation and supports ASEAN centrality" in the new forum.

Beijing's increased assertiveness, particularly in the South China Sea, has caused jitters among neighbouring nations as well as the United States, which is also at odds with China over trade and currency issues.

US Defence Secretary Robert Gates held talks with Liang Monday in a bid to improve their military ties after China broke off defence contacts in January over Washington's arms deals with Taipei.

"This meeting is a new and important step forward in ASEAN's defence cooperation," said Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, whose country holds the current ASEAN chairmanship.

China tells defence forum its military growth is no threat ::


Tihar Jail
Oct 2, 2009
China tells defence forum its military growth is no threat

China tells defence forum its military growth is no threat ::
Following is the old article but was rightly predicted then................

"The Rise of China Will Not Be Peaceful at All"

The Australian, November 18, 2005
John Mearsheimer
President Bush hopes the Asian giant will be a friendly one, but John
Mearsheimer is a pessimist
THE question at hand is simple and profound: will China rise peacefully?
My answer is no.
If China continues its impressive economic growth over the next few
decades, the US and China are likely to engage in an intense security
competition with considerable potential for war. Most of China's
neighbours, to include India, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Russia and
Vietnam, will join with the US to contain China's power.
To predict the future in Asia, one needs a theory that explains how rising
powers are likely to act and how other states will react to them.
My theory of international politics says that the mightiest states attempt
to establish hegemony in their own region while making sure that no rival
great power dominates another region. The ultimate goal of every great
power is to maximise its share of world power and eventually dominate
the system.
The international system has several defining characteristics. The main
actors are states that operate in anarchy which simply means that there is
no higher authority above them. All great powers have some offensive
military capability, which means that they can hurt each other. Finally, no
state can know the future intentions of other states with certainty. The
best way to survive in such a system is to be as powerful as possible,
relative to potential rivals. The mightier a state is, the less likely it is that
another state will attack it.
The great powers do not merely strive to be the strongest great power,
although that is a welcome outcome. Their ultimate aim is to be the
hegemon, the only great power in the system. But it is almost impossible
for any state to achieve global hegemony in the modern world, because it
is too hard to project and sustain power around the globe. Even the US is
a regional but not a global hegemon. The best that a state can hope for is
to dominate its own back yard.
States that gain regional hegemony have a further aim: to prevent other
geographical areas from being dominated by other great powers.
Regional hegemons, in other words, do not want peer competitors.
Instead, they want to keep other regions divided among several great
powers so that these states will compete with each other. In 1991, shortly
after the Cold War ended, the first Bush administration boldly stated that
the US was now the most powerful state in the world and planned to
remain so. That same message appeared in the famous National Security
Strategy issued by the second Bush administration in September 2002.
This document's stance on pre-emptive war generated harsh criticism,
but hardly a word of protest greeted the assertion that the US should
check rising powers and maintain its commanding position in the global
balance of power.
China -- whether it remains authoritarian or becomes democratic -- is
likely to try to dominate Asia the way the US dominates the Western
Specifically, China will seek to maximise the power gap between itself and
its neighbours, especially Japan and Russia. China will want to make sure
that it is so powerful that no state in Asia has the wherewithal to threaten
it. It is unlikely that China will pursue military superiority so that it can go
on a rampage and conquer other Asian countries, although that is always
Instead, it is more likely that it will want to dictate the boundaries of
acceptable behaviour to neighbouring countries, much the way the US
makes it clear to other states in the Americas that it is the boss. Gaining
regional hegemony, I might add, is probably the only way that China will
get Taiwan back.
An increasingly powerful China is also likely to try to push the US out of
Asia, much the way the US pushed the European great powers out of the
Western hemisphere. We should expect China to come up with its own
version of the Monroe Doctrine, as Japan did in the 1930s.
These policy goals make good strategic sense for China. Beijing should
want a militarily weak Japan and Russia as its neighbours, just as the US
prefers a militarily weak Canada and Mexico on its borders.
What state in its right mind would want other powerful states located in
its region? All Chinese surely remember what happened in the 20th
century when Japan was powerful and China was weak. In the anarchic
world of international politics, it is better to be Godzilla than Bambi.
Furthermore, why would a powerful China accept US military forces
operating in its back yard? American policy-makers, after all, go ballistic
when other great powers send military forces into the Western
hemisphere. Those foreign forces are invariably seen as a potential threat
to American security. The same logic should apply to China.
Why would China feel safe with US forces deployed on its doorstep?
Following the logic of the Monroe Doctrine, would not China's security be
better served by pushing the American military out of Asia?
Why should we expect the Chinese to act any differently than the US did?
Are they more principled than the Americans are? More ethical? Less
nationalistic? Less concerned about their survival? They are none of these
things, of course, which is why China is likely to imitate the US and
attempt to become a regional hegemon.
It is clear from the historical record how American policy-makers will
react if China attempts to dominate Asia. The US does not tolerate peer
competitors. As it demonstrated in the 20th century, it is determined to
remain the world's only regional hegemon. Therefore, the US can be
expected to go to great lengths to contain China and ultimately weaken it
to the point where it is no longer capable of ruling the roost in Asia. In
essence, the US is likely to behave towards China much the way it
behaved towards the Soviet Union during the Cold War.
China's neighbours are certain to fear its rise as well, and they too will do
whatever they can to prevent it from achieving regional hegemony.
Indeed, there is already substantial evidence that countries such as India,
Japan, and Russia, as well as smaller powers such as Singapore, South
Korea and Vietnam, are worried about China's ascendancy and are looking
for ways to contain it. In the end, they will join an American-led balancing
coalition to check China's rise, much the way Britain, France, Germany,
Italy, Japan, and even China, joined forces with the US to contain the
Soviet Union during the Cold War.
Finally, given Taiwan's strategic importance for controlling the sea lanes
in East Asia, it is hard to imagine the US, as well as Japan, allowing China
to control that large island. In fact, Taiwan is likely to be an important
player in the anti-China balancing coalition, which is sure to infuriate
China and fuel the security competition between Beijing and Washington.
The picture I have painted of what is likely to happen if China continues
its rise is not a pretty one. I actually find it categorically depressing and
wish that I could tell a more optimistic story about the future.
But the fact is that international politics is a nasty and dangerous
business and no amount of goodwill can ameliorate the intense security
competition that sets in when an aspiring hegemon appears in Eurasia.
That is the tragedy of great power politics.
John Mearsheimer is professor of political science at the University of
Chicago and the author of The Tragedy of Great Power Politics (W.W.
Norton, 2001).


Tihar Jail
Oct 2, 2009
Its not what china says but what it does should be paid attention to.

China: We're no threat to our neighbors

(CNN) -- China isn't a military threat to its neighbors, the nation's defense minister told his counterparts at a security forum of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates tread lightly at the same gathering Tuesday in Vietnam, referring to territorial disputes and aggressiveness, but avoiding direct criticism of China.
"The United States does not take sides on competing territorial claims, such as those in the South China Sea," he said. "Competing claims should be settled peacefully, without force or coercion, through collaborative diplomatic processes, and in keeping with customary international law."
Beijing says most of the South China Sea belongs to China, disputing neighboring countries' claims. The clash over territorial waters and islands -- and the natural resources that go with them -- is a flash point in the Asia-Pacific region.
"China pursues a defense policy that is defensive in nature," Defense Minister Liang Guanglie said. "China's defense development is not aimed to challenge or threaten anyone, but to ensure its security and promote international and regional peace and stability."
Liang's statements came on the heels of a diplomatic clash with Japan over the arrest of a Chinese fishing captain in September. He was detained off the disputed Diaoyu Islands, in the East China Sea, touching off a battle that escalated into diplomatic threats by Beijing, the suspension of diplomatic talks and canceled trips between the nations. In Japan, the islands are known as the Senkaku.
Japan late last month freed the fishing captain, who returned to a hero's welcome in China.
In the aftermath of that clash, China's and Japan's top leaders signaled a thaw in relations by meeting on the sidelines of the Asia-Europe Meeting last week in Belgium.
China and the United States have done likewise this week at ASEAN in Hanoi, Vietnam.
The U.S. defense secretary also has accepted an invitation to visit Beijing next year, to further rebuild military ties.
Beijing had cut off military dialog with the United States after the Obama administration announced a planned sale of arms to Taiwan earlier this year.
ASEAN is a political and economic organization consisting of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. The talks in Vietnam also include Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, Russia, South Korea and the United States.


Senior Member
Apr 11, 2010
Country flag
Bharat wants China out of the Indian Ocean

Reacting to the total dominance of China in and around Africa, Delhi has begun to writhe in agony. Edgy analysts in Delhi are contemplating how to stop the onslaught of Anti-Indian presence all around the borders of Bharat. The Sri Lankan conflict had less to do with Tamil nationalism, and a lot more to do with the port of Lankan port of Hambantota. During the cold war Sri Lanka had allowed Israel, and the US access to the port and was contemplating setting up a VOA tower in Lanka to broadcast American propaganda to a Soviet satellite–India. These were the good old days of very powerful Radio Ceylon which was listened to in all parts of South Asia. Bharat created the LTTE to pressure Lanka to backing off its US drift. After the Cold War, the Indians continued to support the LTTE terrorists and the Tamil Tigers continued their battle. Lanka paid a heavy price for its defiance. Now the tables have turned, Delhi is no longer averse to US bases, but doesn't want any Chinese ones in Lanka. The case is different for Maldives. Former President Mamoon Abdul Gayoom had wanted to keep away Bharatiya intrusion into the Maldives. However this has been overturned with the arrival of the new regime in the Maldives. Delhi has tried to monopolize international oceans and prevent China and Pakistan to participate in regimes that would monitor and keep them open for word wide travel. Bharat aimed to create a regional grouping stretching from the eastern coast of Africa to Australia. The US and China were specifically excluded on the ground they were not Indian Ocean littoral states. Bharat's efforts in attempting to create the "Indian Ocean Naval Seminar (IONS) last year have faltered. Indian Defence Minister A. K. Antony, while visiting Maldives, has declared that India and the Maldives have agreed on a series of measures to step up defense cooperation between the two countries. Officials have said that regular Dornier surveillance flights and an air force station, as well as military helicopters and 26 coastal radars, are part of the security plan. A 25-bed military hospital in Male has also been pledged by India. India may also set up a network of ground radars on major atolls of the Maldives. linking them with the Indian Coastal Command. This would bring the Maldives into the eye of India's coastal security setup and within the security network of its armed forces.

A clear disconnect has emerged in the military views of India and the US, with a top American military commander saying Washington is comfortable with the increased presence of the Chinese Navy in the Indian Ocean, a suggestion that New Delhi bristles at. In floating the Indian Ocean Naval Seminar (IONS) last year, India aimed to create a regional grouping stretching from the eastern coast of Africa to Australia. The US and China were specifically excluded on the ground they were not Indian Ocean littoral states. Admiral Timothy J. Keating, who heads the Hawaii-based US Pacific Command, who was on a two-day visit to Bharat, while talking to reporters said he would like China to come aboard – as an observer and later as a participant – in the annual India-US Malabar naval war games that occasionally take on a trilateral hue. Bharat is hardly expected to root for this; and, the US would be comfortable with the Chinese Navy acquiring berthing facilities in Sri Lanka and the Maldives, a move that Bharat has been vehemently opposing. Keating also welcomed the increased participation of the Chinese Navy in the anti-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden at a time when India has been expressing growing concern over this, viewing it as Beijing's muscling into New Delhi's backyard. During his visit to New Delhi, Keating held discussions with his Indian counterpart, Admiral Suresh Mehta, National Security Advisor M.K. Narayanan and Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon. Bharat claim that Chinese intrusion extends beyond Lanka and the Maldives. It extends to the Sea of Aden where the Chinese have been asked to monitor the sea off the coast of Somalia. However, Keating declared that there is lots of room in the Indian Ocean for various players. He stressed that the US is not in favour of splitting the Indian Ocean into sphere but is talking in terms of cooperating and collaborating and sharing best practices. Bharat needs to be reined in if it thinks it is the sole custodian of the Indian Ocean.


Senior Member
Aug 17, 2009
Country flag
seriously a patheic article who has written it who even doesnot the name "india"


The Preacher
Senior Member
Dec 3, 2010
Country flag
China : "String of Pearls" Strategy - a different perspective:

1) China is strengthening diplomatic ties and building naval bases along the sea lanes from the Middle East.

2) This "String of Pearls" strategy is designed to protect its energy security, negate US influence in the region, and project power overseas.

3) Each "pearl" in the "String of Pearls" is a nexus of Chinese geopolitical influence or military presence.

4) Hainan Island, with recently upgraded military facilities, is a "pearl." An upgraded airstrip on Woody Island, located in the Paracel archipelago 300 nautical miles east of Vietnam, is a "pearl." Acontainer shipping facility in Chittagong, Bangladesh, is a "pearl." Construction of a deep water port in Sittwe, Myanmar, is a "pearl," as is the construction of a navy base in Gwadar, Pakistan.

5) Port and airfield construction projects, diplomatic ties, and force modernization form the essence of China's "String of Pearls."

The "pearls" extend from the coast of mainland China through the littorals of the South China Sea, the Strait of Malacca, across the Indian Ocean, and on to the littorals of the Arabian Sea and Persian Gulf. China is building strategic relationships and developing a capability to establish a forward presence along the sea lines of communication (SLOCs) that connect China to the Middle East The Nature of the Pearls. China's development of these strategic geopolitical "pearls" has been nonconfrontational, with no evidence of imperial or neocolonial ambition.

The development of the "String of Pearls" may not, in fact, be a strategy explicitly guided by China's central government. Rather, it may be a convenient label applied by some in the United States to describe an element of China's foreign policy. Washington's perception of China's de facto strategy may not be a view shared in Beijing, but the fact remains that economic benefits and diplomatic rhetoric have been an enticement for countries to facilitate China's strategic ambitions in the region. The port facility at Gwadar, for example, is a win-win prospect for both China and Pakistan. The port at Karachi currently handles 90 percent of Pakistan's sea-borne trade, but because of its proximity to India, it is extremely vulnerable to blockade. This happened during the India-Pakistan War of 1971 and was threatened again during the Kargil conflict of 1999.

6) Gwadar, a small fishing village which Pakistan identified as a potential port location in 1964 but lacked the means to develop, is 450 miles west of Karachi.

7) A modern port at Gwadar would enhance Pakistan's strategic depth along its coastline with respect to India. For China,the strategic value of Gwadar is its 240-mile distance from the Strait of Hormuz. China is facilitating development of Gwadar and paving the way for future access by funding a majority of the $1.2 billion project and providing the technical expertise of hundreds of engineers

8) Since construction began in 2002, China has invested four times more than Pakistan and contributed an additional $200 million towards the building of a highway to connect Gwadar with Karachi. In August 2005, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao visited Pakistan to commemorate completion of the first phase of the Gwadar project and the opening of the first 3 of 12 multiship berths.

9) The Gwadar project has enhanced the strategic, diplomatic, and economic ties between Pakistan and China. Other countries are benefiting from China's new strategy, as well. In November 2003, China signed an agreement with Cambodia to provide military equipment and training in exchange for the right of way to build a rail line from southern China to the Gulf of Thailand.

10) China also has an ambitious $20 billion proposal to build a canal across Thailand's Kra Isthmus which would enable ships to bypass the chokepoint at the Strait of Malacca.

11) Although this plan is stalled due to Thailand's noncommittal position and political opposition in Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore, it reveals the scope and scale of Chinese ambition for the "String of Pearls."


The Preacher
Senior Member
Dec 3, 2010
Country flag
string of Pearls:
meeting the challenge of china's rising Power across the asian littoral

by Christopher J. Pehrson​

We have beheld in the ocean huge waves like mountains rising sky-high, and we have set eyes on barbarian regions hidden away beyond a blue of light vapors, while our sails, loftily unfurled, day and night continued their course like that of a star, traversing the savage waves as if we were treading a public thoroughfare.

Zheng He, "Admiral of the Western Seas"​


The year 2005 marked the 600th anniversary of China's first experience as a maritime power. In 1405, Emperor Yongle of the Ming Dynasty dispatched a "treasure fleet" of 62 ships under command of the explorer, Zheng He. Four of his ships were some of the largest wooden sailing vessels ever built, then or since, measuring over 400 feet long and 160 feet wide. Included in his fleet were specialized ships for transporting horses, ships designed to carry fresh water, supply ships, troop transports, and military vessels for defense. The fleet embarked into the open ocean with 27,800 men and thousands of tons of Chinese goods to trade during their voyage. By comparison, 87 years later in 1492, Columbus embarked on his fateful voyage with only 3 ships and 87 men. His flagship, the Santa Maria, was barely seaworthy at 75 feet long.

Today, following centuries of Western maritime dominance that began with Columbus, a rising China is taking concrete steps to develop its maritime reach beyond China's periphery. China's dramatic rise poses complex challenges and opportunities for the United States, both globally and regionally. China's growing interest and influence from the South China Sea through the Indian Ocean and on to the Arabian Gulf has been described as a "String of Pearls" approach that potentially could present the United States with complex regional challenges. The purpose of this paper is to examine the nature of the People's Republic of China's (PRC) evolving maritime power, analyze the "String of Pearls" in the context of China's larger grand strategy, and propose informed recommendations for U.S. policy and programs to meet the potential challenges imposed by the "String of Pearls." Following this introduction, the second section defines the "String of Pearls," explains the motivation behind it, and describes how it relates to China's evolving national strategy.

The author analyzes the "String of Pearls" in depth in Section III. He first assesses China's grand strategy of "peaceful development" in the context of the global security environment and the implications for U.S. foreign policy. The section examines regional security challenges that the "String of Pearls" could present to the United States. Specific areas of concern include competition for regional influence, China's relationship with rogue states, and how modernization efforts of the People' Liberation Army (PLA), in particular the PLA Air Force (PLAAF) and PLA Navy (PLAN), affect the dynamics of the "String of Pearls." The author reviews areas of convergence and divergence with respect to both Chinese and American national interests and then explores U.S. response options to meet the challenges of the "String of Pearls." U.S. strategic options range from an optimistic approach of engagement to a pessimistic Cold War-era strategy of containment. Based on the foregoing analysis, the third section concludes with recommendations for a pragmatic U.S. strategy of substantive, results-oriented engagement towards China with military hedging as insurance.

Section IV makes broad recommendations for implementing this pragmatic strategy with respect to the military instrument of power. The author addresses the adequacy of U.S. global posture, to
include maritime and aerospace forces. He questions U.S. force structure and laydown with respect......

To continue reading the full 30 page PDF document. Click Here

it is very good analysis. please find sometime to walk though some of the pages in the pdf.


Senior Member
Apr 11, 2010
Country flag
India's Quiet Counter-China Strategy

While publicly worrying over a Chinese 'String of Pearls' strategy, Indian military planners have been quietly boosting alliances in Asia.

The devastating earthquake and tsunami that struck north-eastern Japan last week may well delay a proposed naval exercise between India, the United States and Japan scheduled for early April. But irrespective of when it takes place, Exercise Malabar will see the Japanese Navy involved for the second year running in this joint India-US exercise.

At first glance, this may seem routine. But in the context of recent tensions in the Asia-Pacific region, as well as last year's intensifying rhetoric among countries with interests in the South China Sea, this annual exercise is assuming greater significance.

Exercise Malabar, originally envisaged as a bilateral US-India venture, had already assumed a higher profile in 2007 when Singapore, Japan and Australia joined the manoeuvres in the Bay of Bengal, prompting Beijing to issue demarches to all five participating countries. From China's point of view, the coming together of these five countries marked the beginning of a loose anti-China naval barrier in the Indian Ocean region.

Following China's protest, New Delhi and Washington refrained from inviting a third country for joint exercises held in 2008 and 2009. But last year, it quietly allowed Japan to participate in exercises off the coast of Okinawa. With Japanese participation failing to provoke a political storm, India decided it was happy for the Japanese Maritime Self-Defence Force to join in again this April.

According to the US Navy, the aim of the exercises is to 'strengthen the stability of the Pacific Region.' India, though, officially dismisses this sweeping rhetoric, arguing that the exercises are simply a learning opportunity for the Indian Navy. Sources say the emphasis of this latest 'learning exercise' for the Indian Navy will be on anti-submarine warfare, surface warfare, air defence, live-fire gunnery training, and visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) operations.

So what is Japan's interest in taking part? For a start, while Japan's relations with Moscow and Beijing are erratic, India is seen as a stable and reliable long-term partner, a point underscored by Japan's recently released National Defence Programme Guidelines.

After touching on the United States and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), which provide the traditional parameters of Japanese interests, the guidelines state that Japan must increase its cooperation with India and other countries that share the common interest of enhancing the security of maritime navigation from Africa to the Middle East to East Asia.

India, for its part,hopes to secure access to defence platforms and technologies that Japan has made a priority, such as maritime patrol, air defences, ballistic missile responses, transportation and command communications.

In keeping with the new focus, several high-level defence exchanges have taken place between India and Japan since the middle of 2010.

Air Chief Marshal P V Naik, chairman of India's Chiefs of Staff Committee and the country's most senior military officer, led an Indian delegation to Japan last September to participate in the first military-to-military talks between the two countries.

Naik's visit came just weeks ahead of a trip by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to Tokyo in late October and was a follow-up to discussions in Japan in 2009 involving Indian Defence Minister A.K. Antony, in which the two sides expressed their commitment to contribute to bilateral and regional cooperation. Observers reading between the lines though, saw something else — an effort to build regional partnerships to counter the growing influence of China.

These high level visits aside, the Indian Navy has become increasingly active in the use of 'friendly' forays into the Pacific, including when a flotilla of Indian warships completed a month-long deployment to the Pacific that included visits to Australia, Indonesia, Singapore and Vietnam.

Indeed, these visits underscored the fact that India is quietly reaching beyond major regional powers to put in place a more robust military-to-military partnership with key nations in South-east Asia – in the past eight months alone, India's military leadership has made trips to Vietnam, the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand and Singapore.

Last July, Indian Army chief General V K Singh was in Vietnam in the hopes of furthering an already strong strategic relationship. His visit was followed by Antony's mid-October trip to Hanoi, when he participated in the first-ever regional meeting of political leaders in the defence arena. In addition, as the current chair of ASEAN, Vietnam invited India to the ASEAN+8 defence ministers meeting.

There are two main reasons for India's courting of Vietnam. One is that both India and Vietnam have had experience bearing the brunt of Chinese aggression – India in 1962, and Vietnam in 1979. More recently, the collapse of the Soviet Union – long a security guarantor for both India and Vietnam in Asia – left New Delhi and Hanoi without their all-weather, all-powerful friend.

This shared experience, and the fact that they both have longstanding territorial disputes with China, has nudged them together to unite against their common adversary.

Located on the edge of South-east Asia, Vietnam is ideally placed to help counter China's expansion into the South China Sea. With this in mind, and for the past decade, India has been providing Vietnam with assistance in beefing up its naval and air capabilities in an attempt to deny China supremacy in the South China Sea.

But India also has an eye on bolstering ties in East Asia – and not just with Japan. Last September, Antony, who is fast emerging as a quiet but effective player in India's military diplomacy, became the first-ever Indian defence minister to visit South Korea.

The visit was a follow-up on the declaration issued by both countries during South Korean President Lee Myung-bak's state visit to New Delhi in January 2010, when it was decided that the bilateral relationship would be upgraded to a 'strategic partnership.'

Although currently nowhere near the level of Indo-Vietnam defence cooperation, the newly evolving India – South Korea partnership is being seen as a vital component of India's efforts to counter China's increasing footprint in the subcontinent.

Indeed, Seoul is seen as a perfect counterbalance to the China – North Korea -Burma – Pakistan axis that New Delhi and the United States regard as a major irritant to Asia-Pacific stability.

These moves – some subtle, some less so – underscore the fact that while Indian strategic thinkers have been busy sounding frequent alarms over China's increasing forays into the Indian Ocean (and have often overstated fears of Beijing's 'String of Pearls' strategy in the process) New Delhi's defence establishment has been quietly putting in place India's own counter measures to China.

Whatever the consequences of this strategy, one thing is sure: The Indian Ocean and its periphery are poised to become the new playground for the 21st century version of the Great Game.

Nitin Gokhale is Defence & Strategic Affairs Editor with Indian broadcaster, NDTV 24×7


Tihar Jail
Oct 2, 2009
Unstringing China's strategic pearls

Ever since the term "String of Pearls" was coined by a team of experts at United States-based consultancy Booz Allen in 2004, journalists and academics have overplayed China's supposedly malevolent involvement with countries along its Sea Lines of Communication (SLOC), which stretch from the South China Sea to the Indian Ocean.

For them it was easy to believe that China, a country once known more for its bloody Tiananmen Square crackdown in 1989 and one-child population control policy than its strategic might, had a hidden strategy to build military bases along its SLOC. Now, with the recent announcement that China plans to increase its military budget by 12.7% year-on-year, the "String of Pearls" strategy is expected to receive new critical attention and commentary.

There is still scant concrete evidence that China is currently or in the near future planning to build and maintain military bases along its SLOC. Indeed, to date the controversial theory is based more on speculation than fact. According to the 2005 Washington Post article that galvanized the debate, the "String of Pearls" refers to China's supposed aim to leverage diplomatic and commercial ties to build strategic bases stretching from the Middle East to southern China in order to protect its energy interests as well as "broader security objectives".

A map taken from the original Booz Allen report shows that China is intimately involved with countries along its SLOC in the Indian Ocean, including Bangladesh, Pakistan, Myanmar and Sri Lanka. In the Washington Post article, China was said to be building a container port facility at Chittagong, Bangladesh but at the same time was "seeking much more extensive naval and commercial access".

In Myanmar, China was supposedly building naval bases and had established electronic intelligence gathering facilities on the nearby Coco islands in the Bay of Bengal [1]. At Hainan Island, the supposed first in the chain of strategic pearls off the coast of China, the article said China was being allowed to "project air and sea power". Moreover, based on the Booz Allen map, China was said to be establishing a naval base and surveillance facilities in Pakistan.

Viewing a map of China's SLOC, there is certainly a correlation between China's relations with these countries and its energy security policy. Nearly 80% of China's fuel is imported, mostly from the Middle East and North Africa, and those shipments must travel through several strategic "choke points" along the way, including through the particularly narrow Strait of Malacca. But correlation does not always signify a causal effect.

The "String of Pearls" theory is based partially on the fact that China possesses one of the world's largest commercial shipping fleets and relies heavily on international maritime commerce. Energy imports carried on tankers from the Persian Gulf and Africa traverse often treacherous regions, including the threat of long-range pirates operating from Somalia. In accordance with those threats, China has developed diplomatic, economic and military relations with respective Indian Ocean countries. However, it is a large hypothetical leap to assert these relations are driven by a longer-term desire to construct actual military bases along its SLOC.

Ever since the publication of the Washington Post's alarmist article, journalists and researchers have hyped China's intentions in the Indian Ocean. For example, Commander Kamlesh Kumar Agnihotri, a research fellow at New Delhi's National Maritime Foundation, penned a paper in February 2010 entitled: "Chinese Quest for a Naval Base in the Indian Ocean - Possible Options for China" that weighs and outlines China's supposed "global power projection thinking". Retired Indian army Brigadier S K Chatterji painted a more threatening portrait of China's involvement with South Asian countries in his September 2010 article "Chinese String of Pearls could Choke India".

Strategic commerce
In analyzing China's supposed strategic "pearls", three key characteristics stand out. First and foremost, China does have some involvement in the identified ports. But with the exception of Sri Lanka's Hambantota and perhaps Myanmar's Sittwe, they are used not only by China and there are currently no signs whatsoever of any developments for future military purposes.

Second, while there is no denying that China has an interest in building relations with strategically located countries, it is important to understand the great power context these countries face. To openly side with China over other regional powers, including India and the United States, would be extremely risky diplomacy for these smaller countries.

Indeed, in today's globalized world, choosing one great power's side over another's unnecessarily limits countries' economic and political options. That's especially true for less-developed countries like Myanmar, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka - all of which are reliant on foreign trade, aid and investment and for development purposes need all they can get. In the current geopolitical context, countries stand to gain the most by subtly playing great power off one another, rather than committing to one in particular.

Third, government officials in the respective "pearl" countries have openly repudiated reports they have given China any preferential treatment and that Beijing is quietly building and/or planning to build military bases in their sovereign territories.

Hainan Island, located off China's coast in the South China Sea and often referred to as the first pearl in the chain, has often been at the center of this debate. In 2008, the United Kingdom-based Daily Telegraph newspaper claimed that China had built a secret underground nuclear submarine base at Yulin Naval Base on the southern tip of Hainan.

The report followed on US estimates that China would have five operational nuclear submarines, each capable of carrying 12 JL-2 nuclear missiles, by 2010. [2] Because Hainan island is China's sovereign territory, there has been no denial that Beijing maintains a military base there. Whether or not the base is dedicated more to securing China's SLOC or asserting its territorial claims in the South China Sea is less clear.

Bangladesh's Chittagong port is the country's principal seaport, currently handling around 92% of its import-export trade. The cash-strapped government in Dhaka does not have the finances needed to modernize the port and China, a long standing ally, recently agreed to help fund upgrades. [3] Bangladeshi authorities along with their Chinese counterparts set out an $8.7 billion development plan to raise bulk cargo handling capacity to 100 million tons and containers handling of three million 20 feet equivalent unit containers annually by 2055. [4] The ambitious plan also involves the development of a deep sea port and a road connecting Bangladesh to China via Myanmar. [5]

Because Chittagong port handles the majority of the country's trade, the scheme would appear to make rational business sense from China's perspective and the planned new connecting roadway. In 2010, India, Nepal and Bhutan also received Bangladesh's approval to use the port for trade. Bangladesh Foreign Minister Dipu Mani said in March last year he had tried to woo China into a similar agreement, but as of 2011 there has not been any development suggesting China will use the port for its trade. [6]

The strengthening of Sino-Bangladeshi relations is a matter of strategic concern for both India and the US. Mani has stated publicly that China's involvement in building a deep sea port was only for economic purposes. He said that Bangladesh was acting as a "bridge" between China and India and would never let its territory be used for military attacks. [7] Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said that the plans were part of her government's strategy to connect Bangladesh to the greater Asian region in order to develop its markets and promote economic growth "in the interest of the people of this country." 8]

Myanmar's Sittwe port, a small facility considered another of China's "pearl", is situated approximately 265 kilometers south of Chittagong. However, it was India - not China - that agreed to a contract with Myanmar in April 2009 for the development of the so-called Kaladan Transport Project, which includes plans for the development of the Sittwe port. The Indian company Essar Projects is currently building a coastal port at Sittwe and a river jetty at Paletwa.

As part of the same project, an additional 120 kilometers of road will be built in Myanmar from the river terminal in Paletwa to the India-Myanmar border in the northeast. The project is scheduled for completion in three years at a cost of between $75-$120 million, which will be financed entirely by New Delhi.

Both countries hope that the project will boost trade links between ports on India's eastern seaboard and Myanmar's western Arakan (Rakhine) State. From there, goods will be shipped along the Kaladan River from its confluence near Sittwe to Paletwa in Myanmar's Chin State and by road to India's Mizoram State, which will provide an alternative route for the transport of goods to India's landlocked northeast.

China is using the current port at Sittwe but its main interest is in the Kyaukphyu port in Rakine state and its access to the Bay of Bengal in order to pipe oil and gas from the Middle East and Africa to its land-locked southern and western hinterlands. Beijing is currently building two parallel oil and gas pipelines that will connect Kyaukphyu port to the Chinese city of Kunming in southern Yunnan province.

The oil pipeline will terminate in the city of Kunming, while the 2,806-kilometer natural gas pipeline will extend to China's Guizhou and Guangxi provinces. [9] It will allow Chinese oil tankers from Africa and the Middle East to pipe their fuel loads directly to China, therefore avoiding the potential strategic choke point of the Malacca Strait. The estimated construction cost of both pipelines is $3.5 billion, in addition to the development of an offshore gas field worth $3 billion, both of which will be financed largely by China. [10]

Rudimentary radar
Myanmar's Coco Islands, another supposed "pearl", have been allegedly used by China to gather signal Intelligence (SIGINT) and electronic Intelligence (ELINT) in the east Indian Ocean. News reports have claimed China intends to build naval bases on the islands in order to observe Indian naval and missile launch facilities in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands to the south and movements of the Indian navy and other navies throughout the eastern Indian Ocean. [11]

Because of the controversy, China and Myanmar invited Indian officers to visit the contentious premises. In 2006, Indian naval delegations were unable to find any evidence to confirm these intelligence-gathering suspicions. The radars they inspected on the islands were characterized as "rudimentary". In September 2009, Vice Admiral Anup Singh, flag officer commanding-in-chief of India's Eastern Naval Command, stated that up until then there had been no signs of Chinese naval movements in the region. [12]

A 2008 report entitled "Burma's Coco Islands: Rumours and Realities in the Indian Ocean" written by Myanmar security expert Andrew Selth argued that the lack of verifiable data regarding China's involvement in the Coco Islands had complicated the issue. He wrote that "credulous" media reporting, often pushed by individuals with their own agendas, led to the "myth" of a Chinese military base on the Coco Islands. [13] As of late 2009, there was no tangible evidence of China's military presence in the region and its supposed use of the Sittwe port for present or future military activities.

Sri Lanka's Hambantota port, yet another alleged "pearl", was previously a small fishing harbor on the country's southern coast and is located on the primary sea route connecting Europe to Asia. Sri Lanka has proposed to build a modern port facility near the existing harbor and first pitched the idea in 2005 to India, which had already refurbished the World War II-vintage oil-tank farm at Trincomalee. New Delhi was not interested in the project and China later agreed to fill the financing gap. In February 2007, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa signed eight agreements, including the Hambantota project, during an official visit to Beijing.

By 2023, Hambantota is projected to have a liquefied natural gas refinery, aviation fuel storage facilities, three separate docks to give the port a transshipment capacity and dry docks for ship repairs and construction. The project also envisages that the port will serve as a base for bunkering and refueling. [14] The Hambantota project is part of a larger $6 billion post-war infrastructure revitalization drive and China is among many countries now actively investing in the country. [15]

Priyath Wickrama of Sri Lanka's Ports Authority had been contacted by India, Singapore, Russia, Australia, Middle Eastern countries and major shipping lines to express their interest in the project, according to a Reuters report. [16] In dire need of reconstruction after years of civil war, the Rajapakasa government played its card to the highest bidder, which happened to be China. Rajapakasa has strongly repudiated any hints that China was given preferential treatment over other bidders. [17]

Empty docks

Pakistan's Gwadar port, on the Mekan Coast in Balochistan province, is considered the last on the chain of "pearls". According to the Pakistani government, Chinese companies have poured at least $15 billion into Baloch projects, including investments in oil refinery, copper and zinc mines, and a deepwater port at Gwadar in the Gulf of Oman. [18] The port is envisioned as a new gateway for trade between the Central Asian Republics (CARs), the Persian Gulf region, Afghanistan, Iran, and China's Xinjiang and Sichuan provinces and its Tibetan region.

Although China contributed an estimated 80% of Gwadar's construction costs, the port has actually been run by the Port of Singapore Authority (PSA) since 2007 and contractually will be for the next 40 years. Business in Gwadar has been slow, partly due to the proximity of the competing Chabahar port in Iran that India helped construct. The conditions and environment in the surrounding area of Chabahar has made it easier for business to flow to Afghanistan and the CARs.

A budding strategic partnership between Iran, India and Russia will help to establish a multi-model transport link connecting Mumbai in India with Russia's Saint Petersburg and thus provide Europe and the CARs access to Asia and vice versa. Iran and Afghanistan have signed an agreement to give Indian goods destined for Central Asia and Afghanistan preferential treatment and tariff reductions at Chabahar Port. [19]

So far, China has preferred to use the port facilities at Karachi rather than Gwadar for maintaining vessels used in its anti-piracy patrols. In August 2009, in transit to and from the Gulf of Aden for anti-piracy operations, China's Huangshan and Weishanhu vessels used Karachi's port for rest and replenishment. [20] China's preference for Karachi's ports to manage its anti-piracy operations would thus seem to undermine the hypothesis that it plans to eventually use Gwadar as a military facility.

Yet "String of Pearls" speculation still swirls around the under-utilized facility. Nawab Mohammad Aslam Raisani, head of Pakistan's Balochistan province, has pledged to challenge in court what he has characterized as a "one-sided" deal with Singapore's PSA to run Gwadar. [21]

In 2009, Gwadar port handled about $700 million in cargo, less than half of its capacity, and PSA has apparently not invested any of the agreed $525 million it pledged in its agreement with the government. [22] The dispute has sparked rumors about a possible Chinese "takeover" of the port, though both Pakistan and China have denied the speculation. Raisani has reportedly said "Why can we not operate it ourselves? We have trained people." [23]

Stringing together the current status of China's involvement at each of the Indian Ocean port facilities in question, the "String of Pearls" theory quickly comes undone. With the exception of Hainan Island, where China has built a military base on its own territory, there is no clear sign that China has military base ambitions in Chittagong, Gwadar, Hambantota, or Sittwe.

It is significant that government officials in all the concerned countries have strongly refuted speculation that China would be allowed to use their sovereign ports as clandestine military bases, present or future. It is in each of the Indian Ocean countries' interest to balance Chinese, Indian, and US influence in the region. And all the evidence available so far indicates that's precisely what they are doing.

Latest Replies

Global Defence

New threads