February 15, 2014
From the Chinese perspective, it was smart move to invite India to join the maritime Silk Road project. (Photo: Reuters)
Like most great powers in the past and as one of the world’s greatest trading nations China wants to be great maritime nation.
India is apparently ready to join China’s grand ambition to construct a maritime silk road linking the waters of the Pacific and Indian Oceans according to a Press Trust of India report from Beijing on Friday evening.
Seriously! The outgoing UPA government might have a hard time selling the idea to the Indian strategic establishment that has long been wary of Chinese navy’s rising naval profile in the Indian Ocean and viewed with much suspicion Chinese construction of port infrastructure in Pakistan (Gwadar) and Sri Lanka (Hambantota).
The PTI report cited Chinese officials to say that Beijing extended the offer to India in the just concluded round of talks in Delhi between the Special Representatives of the two countries, India’s National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon and the Chinese State Councillor.
Although there has been no word yet from the Indian side, the idea of a ‘maritime silk road’ has been right up the Chinese President Xi Jinping’s foreign and security policy agenda. Like most great powers in the past and as one of the world’s greatest trading nations China wants to be great maritime nation.
Xi’s predecessor, Hu Jintao put the idea of Beijing’s ‘maritime destiny’ at the centre of Chinese grand strategy in the 21st century and oversaw the dramatic expansion of the PLA Navy. Hu’s naval assertion, however, frightened Beijing’s neighbours, from Japan to India through the Association of South East Asian Nations and increased maritime tensions in Asia’s waters.