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Archive for category CPEC:Pakistan’s Strategic Program & First Priority

China builds Digital Silk Road in Pakistan to Africa and Europe

China builds Digital Silk Road in Pakistan to Africa and Europe

PEACE cable will reduce Pakistani internet traffic going through India

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China is set to lay the final leg of a cross-border fiber optic cable in Pakistan, linking to a cable in the Arabian Sea. (Source photo by Getty Images)

MIFRAH HAQ, Contributing writer
January 29, 2021 14:09 JST

KARACHI — China is set to lay the final stretch of a cross-border fiber optic cable in Pakistan that will create the Digital Silk Road, serving the geostrategic interests of both countries. It will connect to a submarine cable in the Arabian Sea to service countries participating in China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and Europe.

Observers see this as a strategic move to circumvent international telecommunication consortiums dominated by Western and Indian companies.

Some BRI projects have been negatively affected by the coronavirus pandemic and debt crises in partner countries, including a $6.8 billion railway project in Pakistan. Part of Beijing’s response has been to step up digital projects and development of communications infrastructure.

The Hengtong Group, one of China’s leading fiber optic and power cable makers, is heading a consortium of telecom companies from Africa, Pakistan and Hong Kong to install the Pakistan East Africa Connecting Europe (PEACE) cable in the Indian Ocean and the Mediterranean.

The laying of sea cable in Pakistan’s territorial waters will begin in March following government approval this month for Cybernet, a local internet service provider, to construct an Arabian Sea landing station in Karachi, Nikkei Asia has learned.

The Mediterranean section of the cable is already being laid from Egypt to France, and the 15,000 km long cable is expected to go into service later this year.

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The PEACE cable will provide the shortest direct internet route between participating countries and drastically reduce the time taken to transfer internet data.

Meanwhile, the Special Communications Organization (SCO) — the telecommunications branch of the Pakistan Army — is about to lay a fiber optic cable between Rawalpindi and the port cities of Karachi and Gwadar. The $240 million project is in partnership with China’s Huawei Technologies, and was approved by the government on Jan 21. It will also connect with the PEACE cable in the Arabian Sea.

The 850 km northern section has been operational since 2018. The fiber optic cable links the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in southwest China to Rawalpindi, where the Pakistan Army is headquartered. The $37 million link provides secure communications between China and Pakistan, which have deepened economic and strategic ties in recent years with the $50 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a flagship BRI alliance.

The project will provide Gwadar with fiber optic connectivity for the first time. The deep seaport was built by China, which also runs it. Observers believe Gwadar’s limited communications infrastructure contributed to its failure to take off as a regional transit hub.

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With the help of China, Pakistan is untangling its growing number of communications lines, connecting Xinjiang and Africa with a fiber optic submarine cable.   © Reuters

In recent months, the CPEC Authority — the supranational body that oversees BRI projects in Pakistan — has accelerated efforts to improve Gwadar’s connectivity with major road and rail upgrades. According to Maroof Ali Shahani, chief operating officer of Cybernet, fiber optic cables will be laid alongside these new links to major national transport routes, connecting the port to the Pakistan’s national fiber optic backbone for the first time.

Pakistan is also looking for an alternate link to the internet through China. At present, most Europe-bound internet traffic from China feeds through terrestrial cables traversing Mongolia, Russia and Kazakhstan.

In 2017, Major Gen. Amir Azeem Bajwa, the then director general of SCO, told a parliamentary committee on information technology that much of Pakistan’s internet traffic was routed through India. This raised fears that sensitive data was vulnerable to hacking. According to local reports, that was when Bajwa sought approval for an alternative network to service Gwadar that avoided India.

“Heavy investment was required but Pakistan did not have the money to have a dedicated channel,” said Shahani, describing how China moved in to provide soft loans, equipment and engineering services.

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A factory in Zhejiang province producing fiber optic cables to support China’s shift from traditional BRI infrastructure projects to digital and communications-related infrastructure.   © Reuters

Pakistan is served by seven submarine cables at present, four of which come out of India, according to Telegeography, a Washington-based telecommunications market research company. These cable networks have been developed by consortiums that include telecom companies from India, Egypt and Pakistan.

The PEACE cable is expected to help reduce Pakistan’s exposure to internet outages from damaged submarine cables by providing an additional route for internet connectivity.

Eyck Freymann, author of One Belt One Road: Chinese Power Meets the World, told Nikkei that the BRI is evolving to place less emphasis on traditional heavy infrastructure, and more on high-tech cooperation and digital services.

“Beijing wants to dominate the physical infrastructure underlying global communications, particularly the internet,” he said. “This will give it an advantage in internationalizing its tech sector and pursuing future tech-related deals with partner countries.”

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“It is a way for Chinese firms to gain greater access to certain foreign markets, at a time when they are increasingly being shut out of building infrastructure like fiber optic cables and 5G technology in North America and parts of Europe,” Joshua Kurlantzick, a senior fellow for Southeast Asia at the Washington-based Council on Foreign Relations, told Nikkei.

Kurlantzick said the pandemic and ensuing debt crisis has contributed to the shift in focus from traditional infrastructure projects. “The Digital Silk Road, including this project, is a way of China continuing to show that the BRI will be a major initiative,” he said.

For China, building a quick and safe route for internet traffic to Europe through a dedicated cable managed and supervised exclusively by the Chinese is vital.

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Why India and the US Oppose the CPEC… By Sajjad Shaukat

         Why India and the US Oppose the CPEC

By Sajjad Shaukat

 

India was openly opposing the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) which is part of China’s One Belt, One Road (OBOR) or China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), the US also joined New Delhi. In this context, on October 3, 2017, the then US Defence Secretary James Mattis told the Lawmakers, “The United States has reiterated its support for India’s opposition to China’s One Belt, One Road initiative…the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) a part of which traverses Pakistan-Kashmir.”

http://cpec.gov.pk/progress-update

 

Pakistan strongly rejected the statement from the American defence chief that the multibillion-dollar road and rail network CPEC will pass through a disputed territory of Kashmir, urging the international community to focus on blatant human rights violations and ‘heinous crimes’ committed by Indian occupation forces in the Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK), and reminded America that Washington had also participated in an OBOR summit.

 

Earlier, a statement from the Chinese foreign ministry also dismissed Mattis’ statement, saying that the OBOR plan was backed by the United Nations and that CPEC was an economic cooperation initiative.

 

In this regard, again, the Indian envoy to China Vikram Mistri told Chinese state media in March, last year that a part of the CPEC shall pass through Pakistani side of Kashmir and the OBOR or BRI does not respect India’s “concerns” of sovereignty and territorial integrity.

 

Addressing Indian concerns, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said on April 15, this year, “As for the Indian comments on not participating in the BRI [Conference] for various reasons, I’d like to say that the BRI is an open and inclusive economic cooperation initiative. It does not involve territorial and maritime disputes…Whether the Indian side will participate in the Belt and Road Forum, I think you need to ask the Indian side for a more specific answer. But here I’d like to re-emphasise that the BRI is proposed by China but it is already an international public good….The belt and road cooperation since it was first proposed…has been an open and inclusive initiative for all countries…interested in this…if the relevant side would like to wait and see, we do not oppose that. And as for more international organisations in the second BRI [Conference] meaning that some countries will lose opportunities, you may need to ask the countries themselves which do not participate in the BRI.”

 

It is notable that India which has consistently kept away from BRI did not participate in its second conference which was held in Beijing from April 25 to 27, 2019 and leaders of countries including heads of state and government from nearly 40 countries attended the meeting.

 

Pakistan’ s Prime Minister Imran Khan, in his speech at the opening ceremony called for greater attention to tackling poverty as Pakistan and China enter the next phase of the CPEC. He appreciated the significance of China’s BRI, elaborating, it “marks a new and distinct phase in the onward march of nations in the world along the path of globalization”.

 

However, India and the US continue opposing the CPEC. In this respect, Indian lobbies which are well-penetrated in the US administration and Europe, research centres, think tanks and so-called human rights groups utilize the media tools in defaming Pakistan internationally. Especially, Indian RAW is availing the opportunity of the US-led organized propaganda campaign against Pakistan. Now, CPEC is a special target of these hostile entities.

 

In this connection, much coverage was given by the external media to a report, released on April 13, 2017, by Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO) which is in partnership with Mahatma Gandhi International AISBL. The subject report portrayed complete Indian negative propaganda themes about Pakistan’s provinces of Gilgit-Baltistan (GB), Balochistan and Sindh. Based on falsehood, the report also said that the CPEC is a breach of international law and is being implemented without consultation or compensation to the people of the area.

 

Undoubtedly, GB is the gateway of CPEC into Pakistan, whereby GB’s strategic and socio-economic importance has increased manifold. Like Balochistan, the region has huge potential in trade with China, tourism, minerals, gems, precious stones, agriculture-farming and hydropower production. Therefore, GB’s people who are strengthening their association with Pakistan, pay no attention to the false propaganda.

 

While, these US-led Western entities, particularly India who also give undue coverage to the meetings and protests against the integrity of Pakistan, are especially exaggerating the statements of those Baloch separatist leaders who have taken shelter in Europe and America, and are fulfilling the agenda of their foreign masters against the CPEC.

 

The reality is that the establishment of CPEC between deep Gwadar seaport of Balochistan and the historic Silk Road city in western regions-Xinjiang of China will connect Gilgit-Baltistan through Khunjerab Pass. Beijing would also build an international airport at Gwadar, while the roads infrastructure in Gwadar would link the communication network of the rest of the country to facilitate the transportation of goods.

 

When Gwadar seaport becomes fully operational, it would connect the landlocked Central Asian states with the rest of the world. Being the commercial hub, the port is likely to increase the volume of trade, bringing multiple economic and financial benefits to Pakistan. It will enable high-volume cargo vessels to move in the major oceans. Gwadar project which is the backbone of the CPEC will uplift the impoverished people of Balochistan and Gilgit-Baltistan, including developments in other provinces by providing thousands of employment opportunities, particularly to the less developed areas by redressing their grievances. The resulting prosperity in Balochistan and Gilgit-Baltistan would damp the separatist sentiments of the people, which the hostile elements, supported by the US, India and Israeli do not want. Therefore, these entities and their media describe the CPEC in negative terms.

 

In fact, since the occupation of Afghanistan by the US-led NATO forces, the country has become a centre of American CIA, Indian RAW and Israeli Mossad which are in connivance to obtain the covert designs of their countries and some Western countries against Russia, China, Pakistan and Iran. Under the cover of fighting terrorism, these intelligence agencies which are also in collaboration with the Afghan intelligence agency National Directorate of Security (NDS), support the militants of ISIS and Afghanistan-based Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), including their linked outfits which have been conducting terror-assaults in Afghanistan and Pakistan as part of the secret strategy of the US-led countries. Besides, these terrorist outfits are weakening Tibetan regions of China and Iranian Sistan-Baluchistan through subversive activities.

 

It is mentionable that Pakistan’s Armed Forces have successfully broken the backbone of the foreign-backed terrorists by the military operations Zarb-e-Azb and Radd-ul-Fasaad. Army and top intelligence agency ISI have broken the network of these terrorist groups by capturing several militants while thwarting a number of terror attempts. Peace has been restored in various regions of Pakistan, including Karachi and Balochistan province.

 

But, in the recent past, blasts in Balochistan and other regions of the country showed that the US-led India, Afghanistan and Israel have again started acts of sabotage especially to weaken Pakistan and to damage the Pak-China project of CPEC. Foiled terror attack on the Chinese consulate in Karachi on November 23, 2018, was part of the same scheme. Nevertheless, CIA, RAW and Mossad are assisting the separatist elements of the Balochistan to thwart the CPEC project.

 

It is of particular attention that during P.M. Imran Khan’s second trip to China, on April 28, this year, Islamabad and Beijing embarked on the new phase of the CPEC by signing a memorandum of understanding-agreements on the first Special Economic Zone (SEZ) and socio-economic development and a new agreement on free trade. The new phase of the CPEC would be characterised by industrialization—20 factories is being set up in Rashakai, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province.  In view of trade is an important element of the CPEC, the two sides concluded the second stage of the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) aimed at strengthening trade ties between the two countries. Under the new FTA, China would open up 90 per cent of its market for Pakistani goods whereas Pakistan would share 65pc of its market with Chinese exports. This would also help in redressing, to a certain extent, the yawning trade imbalance between the two countries, which stood at $9.7 billion last year.

 

The two sides also signed an agreement on a technical package for upgradation of Pakistan’s main railway line-Mail Line-One (ML-1) under which a double track from Peshawar to Karachi will be built with China’s help. China who will spend $1bn on 27 projects, help Pakistan Railways in improving its capacity.

 

Nonetheless, China has clarified Indian concerns on the CPEC or OBOR. But, apart from the US, India is particularly opposing the CPEC as part of the anti-Pakistan and anti-China approach.  

 

Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is the author of the book: the US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations

Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is the author of the book: the US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations

Email: sajjad_logic@yahoo.com

 

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China to sell an aircraft carrier to Pakistan

 

China to sell an aircraft carrier to Pakistan

 


China, as part of its recent military and foreign policies, has planned to upgrade on a large scale its first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, to sell it to Pakistan, its ally, in order to compete with India. This selling is to increase Pakistani Navy’s strength, facing India equally and making of Pak a better ally for China.


China to sell an aircraft carrier to Pakistan 2An aircraft carrier fleet of the Chinese PLA Navy arrives in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region on July 7 for a visit to mark the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to China. The fleet comprises the country’s first aircraft carrier Liaoning, two destroyers and a frigate. The fleet will leave Hong Kong on July 11.  (Picture source: PLA HK Garrison)


An official media report separately disclosed that China has planned to carry out a “large-scale upgrade” of China’s first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, and “sell it to Pakistan to compete with India”! It described Pakistan “as the best destination for it” and said that by then the Liaoning, which was commissioned into the PLAN in September 2012, will have served the Chinese Navy for about 18 years. Gwadar and Karachi are already described by Chinese Navy strategists as a “logistics base” and “PLA Navy (PLAN) base” respectively. This does mean that the carrier could be sold to Pak by 2020.

This isn’t the only military vehicle that China wants to sell to Pakistan. During the past few months, plenty of armament and vehicles have been sold to Pakistani armed forces, including nuclear weapons technology, warships, aircraft and missiles. In addition to that, China and Pakistan both take part to more and more joint exercises on their shared borders. Moreover, is China sending aircraft to Pakistan to help them understand Indian aircraft’s technologies and characteristics, in order to counter them more efficiently (J-11, J-11B and Su-30MKK to simulate India’s Su-30MKI, and J-10C to simulate the Rafale fighters India is to acquire).

Military cooperation between those two countries seems to increase more and more all along the months. And China appears intending to integrate Pakistan into its military system to fulfil its global ambitions. Pakistan would then become an outpost for Chinese extended global maritime reach.

All of this can largely be explained by the intentions China has to extend its military and political influence beyond its borders. Recently, China actually has shown to the world its desire to militarily secure the South China Sea, and maybe even the Indian Ocean, by increasing its military power and presence in these areas. In order to make it possible, China has made the decision to deeply transform its armed forces by enhancing its naval capabilities, through the building of brand new vessels, but also through the training of more maritime personnel.

PLA Navy (PLAN) strategists emphasized that, in order to be able to achieve such goals, China would have to launch new carrier battle formations in East and South China. Therefore, China has decided to build 5 aircraft carriers and launch them by 2025-2030. Another 6th could even be considered but whether this one will be built remains uncertain.


 

 

 

 

 

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Bajwa’s Beijing sojourn by S M Hali

Bajwa’s Beijing sojourn

According to the Chinese media, in all the meetings, both the sides have resolved to strengthen the relations between, Pakistan and China and continue the progress of the CPEC. China appreciated the security initiatives taken by the Pakistan Army for the ongoing CPEC projects and expressed the desire to benefit from Pakistan’s military experience

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China Counters Indian Influence in South Asia By Sajjad Shaukat

China Counters Indian Influence in South Asia

By Sajjad Shaukat

 

Under the caption “Chinese investment in Bangladesh rings India alarm bells, Beijing deepens ties across South Asia billion infrastructure loans”, a news item was published in the Financial Times on August 7, 2018. Its summary is:  “China has invested $3.7bn in Bangladesh to built a 6 km long bridge over Padma River which will link north and south Bangladesh by road and rail. India is disturbed over Chinese growing influence in South Asia where it funded similar projects in Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, and the Maldives. It is ringing alarm bells in India which surrounds Bangladesh on three sides and considers itself as Dhaka’s principal ally. India should be concerned, given the role China is also playing in other countries which surround it. In Pakistan, Beijing is planning to spend $60bn on roads, railways and power plants as part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, which will give China access to the sea via Gwadar port on Pakistan’s south coast. In the Maldives, it has signed a trade agreement and has been handed a contract to build a new airport that was originally granted to the Indian company GMR Infrastructure. In Sri Lanka, it has taken control of the southern port of Hambantota after Colombo was unable to repay the money it borrowed from Chinese state-backed lenders to build it.”

 

In fact, China is countering Indian influence in South Asia, as New Delhi has planned to establish its hegemony in the region.

 

 

 

 

 

 

In this regard, the fast-growing economic power of China coupled with her rising strategic relationship with the Third World has irked the eyes of Americans, Israelis, some Western countries and particularly, Indians. Owing to jealousy, America desires to make India a major power to counterbalance China in Asia.

 

America which is backing Indian hegemony in Asia, especially to counterbalance China is supplying New Delhi latest weapons, arms, and aircraft. During President Barack Obama’s second visit to India, the US and India announced a breakthrough on a pact which would allow American companies to supply New Delhi with civilian nuclear technology, as agreed upon in 2008. Besides, America also announced $4 billion of new initiatives aimed at boosting trade and investment ties as well as jobs for the Indians. During Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to America, the then President Barack Obama strongly assured him to favour India’s membership in the Nuclear Supplier Group (NSG), Earlier; Washington also pressurized the International Atomic Agency (IAEA) to sign an accord of specific safeguards with New Delhi. America had already contacted the NSG to grant a waiver to India for starting civil nuclear trade on a larger scale. In the recent past, during the meeting in Washington, the US President Donald Trump also gave the same assurances to Modi.

 

 

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By availing the US secret diplomacy, in the pretext of the presumed threat of China, India has been trying to establish her dominance in South Asia.

 

Historically, India has continued interventionist and hegemonic policies vis-à-vis her neighbours through its secret agency RAW. Besides supporting separatism in East Pakistan which resulted in the dismemberment of Pakistan and continued assistance to the separatist elements of Pakistan’s Balochistan province, New Delhi occupied Sikkim, subdued Bhutan, sponsored terrorism in Sri Lanka, and has been teasing Nepal.

 

As part of the double game, India has also been making a cordial relationship with the small countries of South Asia with a view to colonializing them gradually. For example, during the visit of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to New Delhi, India and Bangladesh on April 8, 2017, signed 22 agreements in the fields of defence cooperation, civil nuclear energy, space and cyber security among others, following bilateral talks between Indian Prime Minister Modi and his Bangladeshi counterpart. Both the countries also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) through which India would extend a line of credit of $500 million to support Bangladesh’s defence-related procurements.

 

India is planning to counteract China’s influence in Sri Lanka. In this respect, two different stories in published in Indian media, need attention.

 

In this context, on April 27, 2017, on a website, LiveMint.Com, Elizabeth Roche under the title, “India renews Sri Lanka ties to counter China influence in South Asia” wrote, “India moved to cement closer economic ties with Sri Lanka in a bid to negate the growing influence of strategic rival China in the Indian Ocean region and South Asia. A pact on economic cooperation was signed in the presence of visiting Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and his host Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The leaders welcomed the signing of the memorandum of understanding for Cooperation in Economic Projects, which outlines the agenda for bilateral economic cooperation in the foreseeable future”, an Indian foreign ministry statement said without giving details—Both sides expressed their commitment to ensuring that this mutually beneficial agenda is expeditiously implemented.”

 

Roche explained, “Analysts said this move by India was aimed at warding off increasing Chinese influence in South Asia which India considers its sphere of influence. In recent years, China has tried to co-opt Sri Lanka and the Maldives into its ambitious. One Belt One Road initiative—a programmes to invest billions of dollars in infrastructure projects including railways, ports and power grids across Asia, Africa and Europe—Given the subsequent hiccups in the neighborhoods first policy or placing—a deterioration of ties with Pakistan and strains in India-Nepal ties for instance—Modi seems to be looking at a new framework of ties with India’s neighbours with the aim of countering Chinese influence, Mansingh said. The new formula includes an element of strong economic cooperation, he said, pointing to India announcing the extension of a $4.5 billion line of credit for development infrastructure and other projects in Bangladesh and another $500 million for defence hardware purchases for Dhaka during the 7-9 April visit of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to India.”

 

Similarly, Indian media and websites gave much coverage to an article, published by German TV Channel (Which also publishes online news items) under the title “India Nips at China’s Heels in Race to Collect Lanka Port Assets” written by Iain Marlow and Saket Sundria, April 26, 2017.

 

Iain Marlow and Saket Sundria wrote, “India is looking to invest in a colonial-era Sri Lankan oil-storage facility as it seeks to further its naval interests in the Indian Ocean and push China back in the process. A unit of state-owned Indian Oil Corp., the country’s largest refiner, is set to help fund the $350 million development of an 84-tank facility at the strategically located Trincomalee port on Sri Lanka’s east coast. India and Sri Lanka are also discussing setting up a refinery in the island nation, according to Shyam Bohra, managing director of Indian Oil’s subsidiary Lanka IOC. The talks come before a meeting between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe in New Delhi. Still, India’s interests in the Sri Lankan port are probably more strategic than economic, part of its effort to displace hefty investment coming into the country from China and preserving a key gateway to the Indian Ocean. China is expanding both militarily and economically in the region, and its submarines have docked previously in Colombo. Lanka IOC is managing the 15 tanks and a lubricant blending unit. The governments of India and Sri Lanka have agreed in principle to jointly develop part of the tank farm…The Sri Lankan government has suggested that Lanka IOC retain 74 of the 84 reconstructed tanks through an equal joint venture with Ceylon Petroleum Corp., Chandima Weerakkody, Sri Lanka’s minister of petroleum resources development said by phone. The other 10 would be handed back to Ceylon Petroleum, he said… Shyam Bohra, managing director of Indian Oil’s subsidiary Lanka IOC said…Lanka IOC is open to the joint development of the tank farm. Something should definitely happen because we are very keen to see to it that the facility is developed, However, Weerakkody…the minister compared India’s investments unfavourably to China’s. India should expedite their projects that they engage in, he said. Chinese investments—they are pretty quick. India’s foreign ministry was not immediately available for comment. If India’s investments materialize, the historic but relatively obscure port could become a hub for New Delhi, whose navy must go around Sri Lanka as it crosses from ports on India’s west coast in the Arabian Sea to those on the east coast in the Bay of Bengal. But New Delhi’s plans would almost certainly be worth far less than Beijing’s ambitious infrastructure-building in Sri Lanka. China has already built a port at Hambantota in Sri Lanka’s south in a move that alarmed Indian observers.”

 

Iain Marlow and Saket Sundria further wrote, “Beijing has also invested heavily in Gwadar, a port in Pakistan that serves as the terminus of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.

 

As regards Nepal, on Nov 28, 2016, a memorandum was forwarded by the Greater Nepal Nationalist Front (GNNF) to the UN General Secretary Ban Ki-moon on facts, which disqualify India for attaining permanent membership of the UN Security Council (UNSC). The memorandum pointed out that “these days India is vying for a permanent United Nations Security Council (UNSC) seat. Greater Nepal Nationalist Front (GNNF) would like to register…reservations against Indian candidature for a permanent seat in the esteemed UNSC.”

 

It said, “Nepal has been a victim of Indian hegemonic and high handed mentality. India imposed a blockade against Nepal…why was India annoyed with Nepal? Because the people of Nepal did not heed Indian advise on promulgating a Nepalese Constitution. India refused to accept the mandate of the people of Nepal as the constitution was approved by more than 90% vote of the Constituent Assembly. India continues to illegally occupy 60000 square Kilo Meters of Nepalese territory.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In this context, on March 25, 2017, ABC News conducted a talk programme/interview with Mr Phanidra Nepal (Mr PN) Chairman of Greater Nepal Nationalist Front, and Dr Bishnu Dahal. In the programme, the discussion was carried out on the need to change Nepal’s foreign policy so that Kathmandu can maintain an equal level of relations with both Beijing and New Delhi. Mr PN said, “Border blockade, unrest in Madhesh, growing anti-India sentiments, excessive Indian interference in internal affairs of Nepal is largely the consequence of our faulty foreign policy and diplomacy…None of the current crises being faced by Nepal is an overnight development, rather these were expected long time ago due to India dependent policies of our country, but Nepalese leaders have failed to read the writing on the wall. China has never opposed maintaining good relations with India but India always managed to alienate Nepal from China. Most of the Nepalese leaders are guided by selfish motives and they try to climb an easy ladder to power through India. This is one of the main reasons that Nepal is subjected to undue Indian pressures, harassments and humiliations. Nepal will have to bear some economic hardship in the short term, but it can lessen all difficulties and achieve a sustainable growth in the long term if it adopts Chinese funded mega projects especially OBOR [China’s One Belt One Road] to reduce dependency on a single country, i.e. India. India is worried about visits of Greater Nepal’s campaigner Phanindra Nepal to China and through diplomatic channels may express her concerns.”

 

In this connection, in an article, under the caption, “Nepal leader vows to revive Chinese dam project, open to review pact over Nepalese soldiers in India”, Debasishroy Chowdhury wrote on February 25, 2018: “The campus was a US$350 million gift from China, which built it in two years and handed it over last year to the paramilitary force, which plays an important role in checking Tibetan refugees from entering Nepal. “Apart from the bricks and mortar, they brought everything from China. All the fittings, the furniture, everything,” says a visibly impressed Shrestha as he points to the overhead projector and the desks in one of the many classrooms. “This entire campus in just two years, imagine the level of efficiency…As a new government takes power in Kathmandu, this widening rift puts it on the cusp of a geopolitical transformation as Nepal seeks a hedge in China to counterbalance India’s traditional dominance.”

 

Nevertheless, India’s endeavour to alienate Nepal from China will not succeed, as a majority of the Nepalese is aware of this duplicity of New Delhi.

 

Regarding the Maldives, David Brewster pointed out on February 8, 2018: “Maldives opposition leaders, such as former president Mohamed Nasheed, are pushing for India to again intervene to restore democracy. However, Delhi’s biggest worry about the Maldives is not the current threat to democracy, but its tilt towards China, especially the possibility that Beijing may establish a naval and airbase there.” 

 

In the recent past, under the title, “Cold War between China and India”,  Jamshed wrote,

“Evidently the relationship between China and India has been strained due to border disputes and economic competition…However, both the countries are in the race to influence the region due to its geo-strategic location…The Global Times said in a recent editorial, “India has a strong desire to control all South Asian countries. It regards the region as its backyard. New Delhi is particularly sensitive to any endeavour by small South Asian states toward independence and autonomy, especially ties with other major powers. All small South Asian nations want to extricate themselves from India’s excessive leverage.” Particularly in the case of the Maldives, India has some very alarming type of fears and apprehensions with reference to the increasing Sino-Maldivian closeness. On request of the Maldivian government, China has consented on doing co-operation in the construction of a port in Northern Atoll. Moreover, last year on 8th December 2017 a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) was also signed between the Maldives and China during Maldivian President Abdulla Yasmeen’s four-day visit to Beijing. By signing this agreement, the Maldives became the second South Asian country after Pakistan to sign an FTA with China. This deal also proved a ‘stunning blow’ for India. Earlier in August 2017, the Maldives permitted three Chinese warships to visit the country, though India had expressed its strong resentment over the decision. Same is the approach of India towards the countries like Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bhutan and Myanmar and even towards Bangladesh. Whereas, China also wants to have its presence as well as influence in the region.”

 

An analyst wrote, Nepal maintains cordial ties with all its neighbours. Since it is one of the less developed countries in the region, it is interested in seeking investment for its economic development. Kathmandu intends to diversify its economic interdependence and develop its reliance on all the South Asian countries for resources and development. Nepal and Bhutan can be a big source of hydropower for neighbours. Bhutan and Maldives view regional economic cooperation as a strategy to bring about economic self-reliance and mutual prosperity. Bhutan aims to improve air links and telecommunication between member states. The Maldives, on the other hand, is interested in joint economic ventures, and in achieving greater liberalization of its economy. China’s observer status in SAARC was a product of the push from Nepal, Bangladesh and Pakistan. China is investing in several infrastructure projects such as the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar (BCIM) Corridor in South Asia. It is also investing in mega projects in Sri Lanka and the Maldives and enjoys cordial relations with Nepal.”

 

Besides, as part of the double game, based in Afghanistan, CIA-led Indian RAW and Israeli Mossad are also destabilizing Afghanistan and Pakistan through terrorism-related attacks and are giving a greater setback to the collective efforts of Russia, China and Pakistan which want peace and stability in Afghanistan.

 

Nonetheless, China is successfully countering Indian influence in South Asia. New Delhi will have to understand that maintaining hegemony in the region through negative planning is a bad idea in the 21St century. If India has to create a positive role, she will have to lend a hand to its Chinese investment in Bangladesh and other South Asian countries.

 

Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is the author of the book: the US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations

 

Email: sajjad_logic@yahoo.com

 

 

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