What is String of Pearls?
“The String of Pearls” is a geopolitical theory related to potential Chinese intentions in the Indian Ocean region. It refers to the network of Chinese military and commercial facilities and relationships along its sea lines of communication, which extend from the Chinese mainland to Sudan Port.
China is backing port projects in countries like Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Myanmar to ring India through its Naval bases which includes container facility in Chittagong (Bangladesh), facility at Karachi and Gwadar port in Pakistan and at Colombo, Hambantota (both in Sri Lanka) and other facilities Maldives, Myanmar and Seychelles .
Affect on India
China’s army base in these sea can create a security threat to India.
With the help of “String of Pearls Project” China is trying to create a threat in the mind of the Asian countries especially India so that it can emerge as the superpower in Asia and the whole world as well. But this is just one face of a coin; another face is that India is also setting a naval base in its surrounding countries so that any Chinese invasion can be tackled.
India’s Plan to counter it:
- Iran India will together access strategic Chabahar Port and will provide an alternative route for India to trade with Afghanistan and Central Asia, bypassing Pakistan. Chabahar will help to bring India in competition with China presence in Gawadar Port of Pakistan which is just 70 km away.
- India and Maldives have maintained strong ties historically. Maldives assured India it will not allow China to build a military base on its land. Maldives permits to basement for Indian Helicopters and Indian navy to secure Maldivian water areas. India and Maldives conducts military exercise with the aim of enhancing military cooperation and interoperability between defence forces of the two countries.
- Andaman and Nicobar islands are India’s strategic islands which are closely located to Malacca Strait world’s major trade routes. Indian Navy has already declared to get more jets for warships, airstrips and extended runways for aircraft on both islands.
- India has plucked a Chittagong Pearl from China’s string in Bangladesh. Both countries have signed up a bilateral agreement that will grant Indian cargo vessels use of the China- backed Chittagong Port and Mongla Port.
- China already having a military base leased on coco-island by Myanmar, despite of all there is growing military cooperation between India and Myanmar which is another setback for Beijing. India is committed to support the modernization of Myanmar Armed Forces and Navy to safeguard and ensure its maritime security in Bay of Bengal.
- Sri Lanka’s Rajapaksa government might have upset India by going too close with China but has lost current election along with few agreements made with China. New Sri Lankan Govt will re-examin all business deals with China that it claims may have been tainted by corruption, which is a big blow to chinese string of pearls.
Under the Act East Policy, India has expanded its role at the maritime navigation, particularly in South East Asia. Hence it can exercise the freedom of navigation principle in international waters. This will enhance India’s credibility and reputation as a maritime power in the region. And making good relations with other countries in South China Sea is also a good strategic step which will help India in making its presence stronger in South China Sea and thus plucking the pearls from the String.