The people's republic of china, a unitary sovereign state in East Asia has been recognized as a potential superpower and one of the world's fastest growing economies. China, being the world's largest trading power, has been able to compete with the biggest powers of the world. In the year 2013, China's president Xi Jinping had proposed a strategy - The Silk Road Economic Belt (overland) and the 21st century Maritime Silk Road, collectively known as the Belt and Road initiative, is a strategy that aims at connectivity and cooperation between China and Eurasia.
In order to first understand basically what led China to plan for such a project that carries a total cost of $4 trillion, it is necessary to specify the reasons. China wants to fulfill its energy needs by getting efficiently connected to the Central Asia which has surplus amounts of oil and energy. China is currently observing a great regional disparity wherein its southern and eastern parts are lagging behind. With the help of this project, the eastern part of china will get connected to the Eurasia by road and the southern part will get connected to the Eurasia by sea. This will lead to the economic development of both the regions and will bring down the regional disparity. China clearly understands that its manufacturing sector, that has a large contribution in china's economy, will have an unsustainable boom in the future. So, in order to connect to the markets of the Central Asia, and sell its products over there, is its crucial need now. Also it wants to have a global dominance and integration of economy with the world.
Sino-Indian relations date back to ancient times. One of the most important aspects of their relationship was the silk route. Silk route, not only was a major trade route between India and China but, also facilitated the spreading of Buddhism from India to the East Asia. This One Belt One Road policy of China is inspired by this silk route only.
Now, China is trying to establish itself as a world power and the biggest threat to it is India. Clearly, China has been making strong efforts to convince India to join the Belt and Road initiative; however India has been reluctant in agreeing upon this. India's objection to the One Belt One Road initiative is due to numerous reasons.
In this crucial hour it is very important for India to understand China's intent to eventually remove its threat by harming India. India should realize that in order to protect the sovereignty, safety and security of its territory, it should stay adamant on its decision of not becoming a part of this initiative.
Nevertheless, China has just described about what all constructions will be done under the project, however , a detailed description along with a map to show exactly how many railway lines, gas pipelines etc. is it going to construct is yet not revealed. Obviously, without revealing such information, India should never agree upon this initiative. It will increase China's political, economic and security influence in India's neighborhood. This would also be abig threat to the safety and security of India's mainland.
This initiative also consists of the project "flagship" China Pakistan Economic Corridor, which violates India's sovereignty as the project covers the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir region. Another strategy planned by china is the "string of pearls" in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR). The strategy includes diplomatic, economic, political and military means. With the help of this, China is trying to achieve maritime superiority and dominance in the Indian Ocean Region. This would pose a challenge to the United States, which is presently a global superpower. China has already started building ports in various regions such as the Gwadar port in Pakistan's Baluchistan area, a port in Sittwe, Myanmar, a port in Chittagong, Bangladesh, the Hambantota port in Sri Lanka. The port at Gwadar, which is connected to the Karakoram Highway linking Western China and the Arabian Sea, is of even greater concern to the India, which views it as powerful evidence of Chinese and Pakistani conspiracy against Indian security and economic interests. With the help of this, china wants to achieve a heavy flow of energy resources and also wants to reach out to other international markets. This way, China will slowly be able to block the flow of energy resources to India, thereby neutralizing India as a competitor state. This will starve India of energy resources, which are a backbone of the Indian industries.
Moreover, it is evident from the past, that 19th century saw the Atlantic Ocean dominance, the 20th century saw the Pacific Ocean dominance and the 21st century is expected to observe the Indian Ocean dominance.
China's such strategy would block India from making use of this opportunity. With the help of this strategy, China has been trying to block the reach of India in the African Markets, which will be a major loss to our Indian economic, political interests. It will also threaten Indian naval presence in the Indian Ocean Region.
Clearly, China's Belt and Road initiative is a mystery, wrapped up in enigma. China realizes the fact that India is a challenging competitor and in order to safeguard and protect their political, economic, diplomatic interests, they need to make this garrote around India. However, a wise nation should be able to interpret and counter such conspired strategies. Past experiences of India are the best examples. India's past experience of mistrust with China is the evidence of this. Therefore, it is high time, that India should realize that China's geo-political implications for India would be a threat to the safety and security of the nation.
Along with this, if India sums up all the above specified harms of becoming a part of the China's One Belt One Road policy, it will be a wise step towards the country's well-being because it is important to "mistrust, before you trust"!
- Bhavya Srivastava