• THE DEN

China efforts to establish military posts in far Pacific definitely a discussion in Quad

|HT|


On April 22, a high-power delegation led by US National Security Council Indo-Pacific Coordinator Kurt Campbell with Deputy INDOPACOM Commander read the riot act to Solomon Islands Prime Minister over its security pact with Communist China. The message was simple and blunt: if Solomon Islands allow China to establish a Chinese military post or base in far Pacific, then the US would respond in kind. With the QUAD summit scheduled to take place in Tokyo on May 24, the Chinese strategy to create choke points in the Indo-Pacific is certainly going to come up for discussion as these steps will have long term effects on the free and open seas. The issue assumes alarming dimensions if the Communist Party of China decides to militarily subsume Republic of Taiwan with its sea-based forces particularly the nuclear submarines crossing the first Island chain encircling mainland China.

While the Solomon Islands PM tried to assuage the American officials by saying that Chinese will not be allowed any base in the far Pacific, fact is that under the guise of Belt Road Initiative (BRI) and bilateral cooperation China has been able to acquire strategic chokepoints all over the Indo-Pacific and poses direct threat to democratic QUAD. With China and its state sponsored companies establishing a foothold in Panama and Port of Ushuaia in Strait of Magellan, choke-point strategy is already evident in north and south America. Add to this Solomon Islands and the Chinese presence in Malaysia and Indonesia, the countries bisected by the key Malacca Straits, the Pacific picture is daunting for security planners.

The situation is quite similar in the Indian Ocean with China establishing a base in Hambantota in Sri Lanka, Gwadar in Pakistan and in Djibouti. With South Africa already under huge Chinese debt, the Chinese have leverage in Persian Gulf and Gulf of Oman with Gwadar, Red Sea with Djibouti, and the key trade route to South and North Asia with Hambantota in Sri Lanka. All these countries are seriously under Chinese debt with Sri Lanka and Pakistan on verge of economic collapse if the Bretton Woods institutions do not bail them out or they further get mired in Chinese debt beyond redemption.

Despite Pakistan being reduced to a client state, the Chinese plans in Gwadar have received a huge shock when separatist Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) female suicide bomber Shari Baloch targeted the Chinese officials outside the Confucius Institute in Karachi this week.

With Taliban on rampage against Islamabad over Durand Line fencing and Baloch getting increasing belligerent against the Chinese, the Pakistan Army is in for a tough time in protecting Beijing’s investments in the Islamic Republic. The restive polity and economic mess that Pakistan is in now will only make matters worse for them as their jihadist exports in the past are now coming home to roost. The situation in Sri Lanka is much worse with the public protests all over the Island nation over rampaging inflation, food-fuel shortages, and mounting debt due to poor governance of the Rajapaksa regime. Rather than taking corrective steps, Sri Lanka like Pakistan is seeking grace of President Xi Jinping so that their multi billion USD debt could be rolled over in return for more equity for Chinese companies in infrastructure projects.

Using the East India Company model, the Chinese BRI now has debt grip on the nations with strategic points in the Indo-Pacific and is a matter of serious concern for the QUAD nations as PLA Navy acquires blue water status by the day. The Tokyo QUAD summit will only live up to its expectations if Japan sheds its pacifist doctrine and others are not embarrassed in naming China as the real threat to Indo-Pacific.


(Except for the headline and the pictorial description, this story has not been edited by THE DEN staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)