When we hear these words in the same sentence, some particular things come to mind – the Chinese goods in Indian economy, the 1962 Sino-Indian war, the border dispute, Buddhism, or maybe the Dakolam stand-off, but considering the present geo-political scenario, things look far more complicated.
String of Pearls (SoP) theory about China’s plot, and China’s One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative shed more light on this pressing issue. As the name suggests, SoP theory relates to China’s increasing military and economic presence in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) to encircle India, starting from Mainland China to Horn of Africa. Beijing have invested billions of dollars to develop Chittagong Port in Bangladesh, Kyaukpyu Port in Myanmar, Hambantota port in Sri Lanka, Gwadar Port in Pakistan, and financed infrastructure projects in the strategically located Maldives and Thailand.
The ambitious OBOR project, set to be completed in the year 2049, is about China’s plan to develop roadways and sea routes to connect over 150 nations in Asia, Europe, Middle East, and Africa. The project, once completed, will give Beijing a virtual control over the lines of communication, trade, and not to mention a free pass to navigate its military forces in times of uncertainty.
This is where Pakistan come into play. Funded by Beijing, China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a significant part of the OBOR, is a trade route with a price tag of $46 billion. CPEC connects China’s Xinjiang province to the Gwadar deep-sea port in Pakistan and it runs through the disputed Gilgit-Baltistan in Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK).
Moreover, it is suggested that China is bidding in neo-colonialism because of its debt-trap diplomacy to fund projects in less developed countries, which will be unable to repay the debt and thereby conceding control to Beijing.
India is the only country in South East Asia that can challenge China’s hegemony, and Beijing is leaving no stone unturned to lessen the influence of New Delhi in the arena of International Politics. India will have to revisit its Act East policy and work for a better co-operation with ASEAN nations.