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Angering India would kill Belt and Road Initiative; Chinese experts caution Beijing

Defence News: Chinese experts have spoken honestly for the first time. There seems to be some relaxation from the State as it’s highly unusual for someone to speak their mind in China. Everything is State controlled. Yet experts have warned China that angering India would hurt OBOR so badly, China will loose big business and in case of a war, China will not be able to conduct trade across Indian ocean.

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ET excerpt: Read full article here.

NEW DELHI: Apart from raising tensions between India and China, the Doklam standoff could potentially threaten Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), Chinese scholars and experts have warned for the first time.

Macau-based military expert Antony Wong Dong has cautioned that Beijing’s hardball politics are pushing New Delhi further away and could end up making it an enemy.

“China is playing psychological warfare… but it should realise that even if it defeated India in a war on land, it would be impossible for the PLA navy to break India’s maritime containment,” Wong told Hong Kong-based English daily South China Morning Post (SCMP), pointing to the importance of the Indian Ocean as a commercial lifeline.

China is largely reliant on imported fuel and, according to figures published by Chinese state media, more than 80% of its oil imports sail through the Indian Ocean or Strait of Malacca.

“Unlike Southeast Asian countries, India has never succumbed to China’s ‘carrot and stick’ strategies,” Wong said. “India is strategically located at the heart of China’s energy lifeline and the ‘Belt and Road Initiative’, and offending India will only push it into the rival camp, which [Beijing believes] is scheming to contain China by blocking the Malacca Strait and the Indian Ocean.”

Sun Shihai, an adviser to the Chinese Association for South Asian Studies, expressed similar sentiments. He told SCMP that he was concerned that the worst military stand-off in more than three decades would fuel anti-Chinese sentiment in India, as mistrust and hostility between the two countries run deep.

“If not properly handled, the border row could have a long-term impact on China’s efforts to expand its diplomatic and economic influence beyond the Asia-Pacific region with its “Belt and Road Initiative”, he said, adding, “India is one of the most important strategic partners for China’s ‘Belt and Road Initiative’ because of its geographic location.”

It may be recalled that Delhi boycotted the BRI Summit in Beijing in May on the grounds that China-Pak-Eco-Corridor under BRI violates India’s sovereignty and that the initiative lacks transparency.

Excerpt ends.

The experts are right, If China thinks its Navy can effectively have a free run in Indian ocean in case of war, then there is not bigger illusion that China has ever been in love with. Indian Navy can, not only block Chinese trade in IOR completely now but even with bigger and more powerful Chinese ships and CBGs (carrier battle groups), it will be impossible for China to break a blockade which IN will enforce. China should indeed stop drooling about wastelands at Tibet-India border and other areas. It should focus on being a mature and reasonable power. It should also withdraw from Pakistan, a state with which it stands nothing to gain despite CPEC and some fancy weapons sales, as the cost to make India an enemy are too high.

Written by Naroop Desai

Naroop Desai loves India and loves to write on defence matters. He has blogged on different subjects at different time. Now he is here with us, sharing his insights on strategy and peace. He is a PG in mass communications.

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