String of Pearls in the Indian Ocean – Places or Bases?

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February 3, 2013 by vishfulthinking

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From the trans Atlantic era to the current trans Pacific era, from the United Kingdom to the United States, the sea trade domination and sea port possession have unmistakably been powerful and influencing pawns on the board game of world domination. Today, the U.S. influences almost all the oil refineries and the sea trade routes emanating from the Gulf in to all the oceans of the world that help other developing and established economies to fuel their growth. Never in the history of the world has any dominating power held as many sea ports, possessed as many navy fleets that can threaten any nation’s self interests as the U.S. have. But, can there be a game of world domination without an opponent? Can the world of prosperity and economic growth of all countries remain flat if just one nation holds it at one end? There was USA to balance the UK, there was Russia to balance USA and now there is China to balance USA. The game of world domination has spilled over from the relatively benign land based and economy based struggle for a bipolar world, to the traditional playing field of the world powers, the Oceans!
The focus of the world, most experts believe, has already started to shift from having trans pacific trade route check points to the Indian Ocean and South China sea check points. The trade route from the Gulf to the shores of China are tortuous and riddled with U.S. check points, giving China a constant fear of being choked by the U.S. from its supply of oil from the Gulf, and thereby the growth of its economy. If China is looking to be a power that can challenge the U.S., it has to secure its sea ports and oil trade routes from the U.S., a task that looks daunting, as most island nations of the South China sea and Indian Ocean are U.S. allies. China though, has already made moves that sort of negates the tension at the Strait of Malacca between Indonesia and Malaysia, the bottleneck of sea traffic and oil trade routes that are heavily guarded by the U.S. China has built a string of sea ports in Myanmar, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and now at the Gwadar port in the Baloch region of Pakistan. The Gwadar port in Pakistan well help China feed oil from the Gulf directly to her western provinces without the need to go through the U.S. guarded ports in the rest of the Indian ocean and south china sea.
In this silent maritime battle for strategic sea port possession and control of oil trade routes between USA and China, India finds herself being surrounded by Chinese dominated sea ports in what it theorizes as a string of pearls, that China is using to do two things simultaneously. One, to gain foothold in the Indian ocean and challenge the U.S domination and two, to threaten a growing India from becoming a third front in the battle of world domination or at least an Asian super power. India isn’t holding back either, after the success of the Agni V missile that can potentially target Beijing, India has now become one of the first few nations of the world develop a nuclear submarine. So, in combination, a strong deterrent to any Chinese land based or maritime threat to India. India is also going all out to improve its diplomatic ties with Myanmar and not to mention some of the trade treaties it has with Japan and other island nations of the south china sea, much to the dissatisfaction China. The historic Indo-American joint navy operations along with the Japanese maritime self-defense units at the Japanese Okinawa coast, in 2011 and then a ten-day MALABAR Exercise of 2012 that involved the Indo-U.S. military sea-lift and carrier strike operations, has definitely sent a strong message to China.
Can one interpret the string of pearls theory by the Indian analysts, a threat any time soon? Can the Chinese controlled ports in India’s not so friendly neighborhood be a ploy to harm the Indian security? What does India do to counter the recent Pakistani based Gwadar port possession by China? The experts of this field think that it will take China at least two decades to convert her ports in to military based defensive ports. It also has to cross much diplomatic hurdles to convince these nations that have provided berthing rights not just to Chinese ships but also to American ships, to convert its ports in to full-fledged Chinese military ports, something that the Americans will not allow to happen. The Gwadar port in the Baloch province of Pakistan is heavily under developed and will need a lot of infrastructural improvements that will take at least a decade of Chinese investment and not to mention the strong Baloch separatist regime that not only are against the Pakistani establishment but will be furious if a foreign country like China starts using their land for military operations. India, meanwhile, will have to further improve its diplomatic and economic ties with Iran and Oman to build sea ports for Indian operations to counter the Chinese threat from Gwadar, Pakistan. This, Indo-Iran diplomatic process however, will be extremely difficult for India as the U.S. and Iran are totally against each other on all matters. Indian governments in the near future will be walking on a tight rope of political diplomacy between America and her middle eastern rivals to counter her Asian super power. A foreign policy maneuver that the NDA or the UPA lead governments of India in the future, will be screened for by the informed public and media to assess their performance at the helm.
Right now, It is safe to say, that the Chinese string pearls are just places that help supply oil but by 2033 or even the 2050s, some of the ports could have transformed in to Chinese military bases that look to foil Indo-American co-operation in the new battle ground of the 21st century world domination, the Indian Ocean!

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One thought on “String of Pearls in the Indian Ocean – Places or Bases?

  1. […] String of Pearls in the Indian Ocean – Places or bases? […]

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