India caged by China’s belts and roads

India caged by China’s belts and roads. By Alexandra Marshall.

At the end of the last century, China assessed its position in the world and found itself on a map surrounded by American alliances. Its subsequent leaders have made it their mission to weaken these by subverting, buying out, and breaking ties to the United States in as many countries as possible. While it has occasionally taken an asset by force, such as Tibet (which controls the source of Asia’s most important rivers), it is generally easier to throw money at the problem.

China’s Belt and Road Initiative is not only the largest land and sea infrastructure project undertaken in human history, it is also a declaration of global military dominance.

Political power is ultimately secured by force. To do that China needs to build transport networks through difficult terrain where it can rapidly move weaponry across Asia. The trillion-dollar endeavour includes the Bangladesh-China-Myanmar corridor, the China-Pakistan corridor, and the China-Central Asia-West Asia corridor in its re-imagined Silk Road. These flow out from China, funnelling fossil fuels and minerals around Asia in contrast to China’s public persona of ‘super green’. …

The heavy lifting of UN coercion is done in Africa. Debt-trap politics target fragile leaderships who are willing to use their natural assets as collateral on Chinese loans that they cannot pay back. China essentially rapes the poorest nations in Africa of their resources, sometimes mined by child labour. It then uses Chinese-built infrastructure paid for by African nations to ship minerals out of the country where they are turned into Renewables technologies and on-sold to virtuous Western nations. In exchange for this predatory relationship, African nations support China in UN votes against Western interests and human rights issues. China calls this the ‘win-win’ scenario. …

The modus operandi:

In regions governed by Islamic dictatorships, China offers military arms in conjunction with infrastructure projects. For better or worse, China picks winners in ancient civil wars, expediting their end so that China can extract resources from that nation and turn a commercial profit as quickly as possible. This has resulted in dominant ethnic groups selling the resources of their neighbours to China without permission….

In strong, stable nations that are suspicious of China’s plans of global supremacy, China empowers separatist movements inside and around them. This exhausts the nation, leaving it unable to stomach a scuffle with China.

India:

India is China’s accidental geopolitical twin and natural market competitor as the Western world falls out of love with China. India is on the rise and Xi Jinping knows it. …

Annoyingly for China, India sits in the middle of its world domination map.

If India’s wealth and influence grows significantly, it could start buying back friends — particularly Sri Lanka who previously ditched a deal to build a joint port with India and Japan, and instead took out billions of dollars in loans with China for the construction of seaports, airports, cities, power stations and highways. This resulted in Sri Lanka granting China a 99-year lease of Hambantota port when it failed to make its repayments – oh, and 32 years of tax exemptions.

Sri Lanka has long been an ally of India with deep connections between its populations. The nation’s recent drift toward China has left Sri Lanka fearing that it has sold its sovereignty to China along with its strategic military assets. A fear re-enforced when unauthorised Chinese submarines cruised into Hambantota. This could explain why, as of January 2021, Sri Lanka has considered re-opening negotiations with India over a rival port.

The easiest way to damage India’s economic aspirations is for China to put pressure on religious tensions in the north.

India’s conflict with Islam began in Northern India around the seventh century with the conquest of Sindh during the Rashidun Caliphate (often referred to as the origin of the Pakistan movement and Gateway of Islam in India). Islam then pushed across the top of India with the Ghurids conquest and consolidated for hundreds of years in the Islamic empire of the Delhi Sultanate. When it came to dismantling British India, these religious divides made it impossible to continue with a unified India, eventually resulting in the formation of separate Islamic nations; Pakistan and Bangladesh.

India, Pakistan, and China are nuclear states. China supplies both Pakistan and Bangladesh with military aid. In exchange for unspecified resources, Pakistan remains silent on sensitive political issues, including the illegal trafficking of young Pakistani women to China.

Bangladesh openly publicises its Chinese tanks, frigates, missile boats, fighter jets, and Chinese military bases. It has leaned so heavily on Chinese investment that Bangladesh is in danger of slipping into dependence. In exchange, China has gained access to the Bay of Bengal and positioned military assets along India’s Eastern flank — completing the box with Tibet controlling India’s water, Sri Lanka cutting off the South, and an increasingly hostile and well-resourced Pakistan bordering the West.

If China cannot buy India off, it will be content to arm its neighbours and encourage an atmosphere of fear to keep the nation looking over its shoulder, fighting civil unrest instead of focusing on economic growth.

For China to succeed, it must create a weak India ringed by military assets on all sides that it cannot fend off in the event that China enters a hot regional war. To ensure India remains trapped, China is prepared to destroy India’s environment by diverting the source of its river systems in a series of ‘green’ hydroelectric dams signed off by a UN that it took the trouble of buying earlier.

If Biden has already proved himself to be complicit in Xi Jinping’s plan to dominate the world’s geopolitics, who will be left to protect Australia from China’s southward creep through the Pacific? Because it won’t be India.

hat-tip Nick