What you should know: The China String of Pearls strategy

You might have come across the term ’String of Pearls’ whenever reading or talking about China, geopolitics, or international affairs. While the term sounds flashy, know what it actually is. The "String of Pearls" is a geopolitical and strategic concept that has been used to describe China's plans and actions to establish a network of military and commercial facilities in the Indian Ocean region.

The term was first coined by military analysts in the mid-2000s to describe China's expanding network of naval and commercial ports and facilities along the Indian Ocean. The metaphor suggests that these facilities are like a string of pearls, with each "pearl" representing a strategic location influence and presence in this crucial maritime area.

It primarily focuses on the Indian Ocean region because it is of vital importance due to its role in global trade, energy transportation (especially oil) and security, trade routes that largely flow through the Indian Ocean from the Middle East and Africa, and its proximity to critical chokepoints like the Strait of Hormuz and the Strait of Malacca, and counter the influence of the United States and its allies in the region.

What you should know: The China String of Pearls strategy

The components China has developed in the ‘string’ are that they have invested in the development and expansion of ports in countries like Pakistan (Gwadar), Sri Lanka (Hambantota), Myanmar (Kyaukpyu), and Djibouti (Doraleh), among others.

In addition to commercial ports, China has also developed or gained access to naval facilities that can potentially support its naval operations and extend its maritime presence.

We cannot leave out the fact that the strategy also involves significant economic investments and infrastructure development in these countries to increase China's influence.

But one might wonder why there are controversies and concerns surrounding the String of Pearls strategy. It has raised worries among some countries and international observers, particularly India and the United States, who view it as a potential challenge to regional stability and a threat to their interests. Critics worry about China's dual-use capabilities in these facilities, such as for both civilian and military purposes which holds the potential to disrupt the balance of power in the region.

What you should know: The China String of Pearls strategy

However, the concept of the String of Pearls continues to be a subject of debate and analysis in geopolitics and international relations.

While we use this term and discuss it, it's also important to note that even if the String of Pearls is a widely discussed concept, there is no official Chinese policy document that explicitly outlines this strategy. China has maintained that its activities in the Indian Ocean are primarily driven by economic and commercial interests, rather than military expansion.

(With inputs from different sources)

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