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Maritime silk route

What is string of pearls?

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 Port Sudan.
The sea lines run through several major maritime choke points such as the Strait of Mandeb,
the Strait of Malacca, the Strait of Hormuz and the Lombok Strait, as well as other strategic
maritime centres in Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, the Maldives and Somalia.
The term as a geopolitical concept was first used in an internal United States Department of
Defense in 2005. The term has never been used by official Chinese government sources,
although it's often used in the Indian media.
The emergence of the String of Pearls is indicative of Chinas growing geopolitical influence
through concerted efforts to increase access to ports and airfields, expand and modernize
military forces, and foster stronger diplomatic relationships with trading partners. The
Chinese government insists that Chinas burgeoning naval strategy is entirely peaceful in
nature and designed solely for the protection of regional trade interests.
Maritime Silk Road
In 2013 both leaders of china announced the initiative
o President Xi Jinpings speech in Indonesian parliament
o PM (Premier) Li Keqiang @ASEAN+China summit in Brunei
Significance of ancient MSR
Chinese silk was a great attraction for the rest of the world
Historically envoys from different countries came to establish diplomatic relations with
china, and their Chinese hosts presented them with coloured silk in return. In reality these
polite exchanges were a disguised form of trade, and Chinese silk began to be treated as
symbol of peace and friendship
The MSR developed into a route of envoys for friendship, with far greater significance that
purely mercantile road
Economic reasons
o Global financial crisis chinas export driven economy disparity b/w coastal china
& inland china social & political problems
o Hence china needs to develop the 12 hinterland regions
Defusing tension
o Good relations with ASEAN, which are presently bitter due to south china sea
Countering US + Russia
o US pivot, TPP, support for democratic transition in Myanmar, security cooperation
with Singapore, the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Brunei
o Russia customs union, Crimea accession
Strategic supply lines
o Strait of Malacca - >80% of chinas imports comes from this route
o Bay of Bengal, Indian ocean better relations with Myanmar & ASEAN
o All-encompassing reason
o Earlier chinas development of ports, navy etc. was termed as geostrategic by the US
o But now china can justify its strategy in the name of economic development &
explore the unique value and ideas of ancient silk route i.e. common prosperity &
development of all countries in the region
How to implement MSR? 2+7 formula of cooperation
Develop port cities along the silk route
o above the wind region: Indian Ocean
o Below the wind region: Malacca, South China Sea, Java Sea and Far East.
Via these port cities, link Asia and Africa with Chinese hinterland
Consensus on 2 issues
o Strategic relation
Strategic relations with good neighbors.
Signed strategic partnership agreements with Kyrgyzstan and Turkmenistan.
o Economic cooperation
With chillar countries in Central Asia, China signed preferential trade
agreements, gave them cheap loans.
Heavy investments via Chinese PSUs. Mainly in energy (oil-gas pipelines) and
transport (railway, highway and ports).
Joint infrastructure projects (rail-road-ports)
Even proposed Asian Infrastructural Investment Bank. Its offices will be setup in
the capital cities of various Maritime silk road countries.
7 proposals
o sign China-ASEAN good neighbour treaty
o get maximum benefit from China ASEAN FTA
o Conclude RCEP by 2015. China led Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership
(RCEP) = the FTA between ASEAN and China, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia and
New Zealand); eliminate trade barriers.
o Regional financial cooperation (to prevent subprime/ BoP crisis) recall that China gave
maximum funding to BRICS Banks emergency fund against Fed Tapering.
o Maritime cooperation - Already working on Gwadar (Pak), Hambantota (SriLanka) and
Chittagong (Bangladesh). Proposal for Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar (BCIM) corridor
o security cooperation
o People to people contact for culture, science and environment.
Indias stand
India is likely to be torn between two competing ideasone is working together with China
in the maritime domain and the other is the long-standing goal of limiting Beijings influence
in the Indian Ocean
India's Look East policy as well as the BIMSTEC Cooperation can also be integrated with the
Some details released, apr,14
Priority would be 'port construction' in littoral countries & free trade zones (china is already
involved in port projects in gwadar, hambantota, chittagong)
China hopes to coordinate customs, quality supervision, e-commerce