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Encircling India by string of pearls an illusion: Chinese scholar

Last Updated: Monday, July 29, 2013 - 15:47

Beijing: The development of a number of strategic ports in South Asia, like Gwadar in Pakistan, by China is not to contain India but to protect the country`s own "legitimate economic interests" in the Indian Ocean, a Chinese scholar has said.

"China`s existence in the Indian Ocean is a productive force that brings economic prosperity and strategic security. `Encircling India` by `a string of pearls` is an illusion fuelled by paranoia," Hu Zhiyong wrote in an article `India wears unreal string of pearls` published in state run `Global Times` on Monday.

"India, if we are to believe the forecasts of alarmist scholars, is going to wear a heavy and suffocating string of pearls" Hu wrote in the article.

"It is true that China is enlarging its investment in some countries around the Indian Ocean in seaports," it said referring to Beijing`s heavy investments in ports like Gwadar in Pakistan, Colombo and Hanmabanthota in Sri Lanka, Sittwe in Myanmar, Chittagong in Bangladesh and Chabahar port in Iran.

"However, it is not true that China`s involvement in the Indian Ocean bears ulterior motives under an ostensibly commercial cover," said Hu, associate research fellow at the Institute of International Relations, Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences.

"These ports where China sets foot geographically might resemble a `string of pearls` that encircles India, but a strategy named after this fact is imaginary," he said.

"China has shown no signs that it plans to dominate the Indian Ocean, and China has no intention to build naval bases beyond its territory. Besides, the ports that China is investing in do not have the capability of forming a military chain," Hu wrote in the article.

But at the same it admitted that latest move by China to take over Gwadar port has "strategic significance" for Beijing "to guarantee the safety of its sea lanes and maintain the balance of power and stability in the Indian Ocean".

"Take Gwadar as an example. There is no doubt that as a deepwater port lying at the key junction of Africa, South Asia and the Middle East, it has prominent strategic significance," it said.

But due to its poor infrastructure construction of the Gwadar port, the Chinese navy has "never regarded it as a strategic asset", it said adding that "like the other ports, it would be a flawed "pearl" if aimed for military use", it said.

"India`s influence over the same maritime space is not diminished due to China`s involvement. As a major sea power, India has been pursuing the modernisation of its navy for decades," Hu wrote in the article.


First Published: Monday, July 29, 2013 - 15:47
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