China’s expansionist agenda in the Indian Ocean « Khabarhub
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China’s expansionist agenda in the Indian Ocean

Threat of Chinese-funded Radar Stations in Myanmar and Sri Lanka


03 May 2023  

Time taken to read : 6 Minute


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The power struggle between China and the United States, as well as their allies, has created a volatile situation in the Indian Ocean region.

To secure their interests, both sides are aggressively pursuing military presence near strategic chokepoints, putting immense pressure on smaller nations in the area.

These nations are forced to tread carefully and their actions are closely monitored by the major powers in the region.

The biggest culprit amongst these is China, which has often resorted to even underhand tactics to gain favors from nations.

The Indian security establishment and media’s response to reports of Chinese-funded and operated “radar stations” in Myanmar and Sri Lanka is a clear example of the growing concerns about China’s expansionist agenda in the region.

Maxar Technologies, a company with close ties to the US government, released satellite images in January 2023 that revealed the resumption of construction activities on Myanmar’s Great Coco Island.

The images depicted the construction of two new hangars, a new accommodation block, and cleared land for further construction, which has raised suspicions about China’s intentions.

China, Myanmar, and Sri Lanka have failed to provide detailed information about their developing ties, despite the importance of these relationships and the involvement of regional and international actors.

This is consistent with China’s salami slicing strategy, where seemingly harmless actions are later revealed to be part of a larger, nefarious plan.

For instance, China often sends its vessels into the South China Sea, violating the boundaries of other nations, and labels it as “research exploration.”

It would be both dangerous and foolish to provide China with any leeway in this matter.

In a report for Chatham House, Damien Symon and John Pollock highlighted India’s long-standing apprehension that China could use Myanmar to spy on its navy in the context of Great Coco.

The authors noted that conspiracy theories have dominated discussions around the Coco Island chain, with any move by Myanmar to bolster its military presence seen as having a Chinese hand behind it.

Such actions by China are only adding to the region’s instability and should be condemned by the international community.

The Indian media, citing “intelligence sources,” has raised concerns about China’s plans to establish a radar station in Sri Lanka’s southern region, further fueling suspicions about China’s aggressive expansionist agenda in the Indian Ocean.

These concerns are not unfounded, China had even sent a spying weather balloon into the USA a few months back. Taunts and salami slicing strategies are not new to China.

The proposed radar station in Sri Lanka, as reported by the Economic Times, has the potential to monitor not only the activities of the Indian Navy but also critical strategic assets in southern India, such as the Kudankulam and Kalpakkam nuclear power plants.

The Kudankulam and Kalpakkam plants are major sources of India’s nuclear energy and the potential of their disruption due to any hostile action poses a serious threat to India’s energy security.

Moreover, the radar station could also track the activities of the US military base at Diego Garcia, which is a vital asset for the US in the region.

Any surveillance or interference with the activities of this base would be viewed as a direct threat to the national security of the United States, and could have serious implications for regional stability.

The fact that China is involved in the construction and operation of this radar station has only added to the already tense geopolitical atmosphere in the Indian Ocean region. China’s increasing presence in Sri Lanka and Myanmar has long been a source of speculation and controversy, with India viewing them as a crucial part of China’s strategy to undermine its influence in the region.

Indian media has churned out countless articles alleging China’s involvement in various developments in these nations, adding to the already tense geopolitical atmosphere.

If China has nothing to hide, then why can’t the publicly disclose its relationship with Myanmar and Sri Lanka? India has every right to defend itself against the treacherous China.

As relations between Myanmar’s military and China warmed in the 1980s, reports emerged speculating that Myanmar would become a “satellite” or “client state” of China.

The large number of arms sales from China to the Myanmar junta, as well as references to Chinese military bases in Myanmar in media, academic literature, and books, only fueled this perception.

These actions by China only serve to heighten regional tensions and threaten the stability of the Indian Ocean region.

China, Myanmar, and Sri Lanka have failed to provide detailed information about their developing ties, despite the importance of these relationships and the involvement of regional and international actors.

Instead of clarifying matters, the parties involved have issued vague press releases that reveal little about the specifics of their economic agreements or the precise nature of their defense links.

Furthermore, there is little understanding of the Myanmar junta’s strategic intentions beyond their apparent fear of foreign military intervention to restore democracy and their overall sense of insecurity.

The wrong message has been sent to the global order.

If China has nothing to hide, then why can’t the publicly disclose its relationship with Myanmar and Sri Lanka? India has every right to defend itself against the treacherous China.

Publish Date : 03 May 2023 11:09 AM

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