Chinese Experts Warn Beijing Over Dokalam
Say standoff could potentially threaten Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative
New Delhi: Apart from raising tensions between India and China, the Dokalam standoff could potentially threaten Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), Chinese scholars and expertshavewarnedforthefirsttime. Macau-based military expert Antony Wong Dong has cautioned that Beijing’s hardball politics is pushingNewDelhifurtherawayand could end up making it an enemy.
“China is playing psychological warfare...but it should realise that even if it defeats India in a war on land, it would be impossible for PLA navy to break India’s maritime containment,” Wong told Hong Kongbased English daily South China Morning Post (SCMP).
Chinaislargelyreliantonimported fuel and, according to figures published by Chinese state media, over 80%of itsoilimportssailthroughthe Indian Ocean or Strait of Malacca.
“Unlike Southeast Asian countries, IndiahasneversuccumbedtoChina’s ‘carrot and stick’ strategies,” Wong said. “India is strategically located at the heart of China’s energy lifeline and the ‘Belt and Road Initiative’, and offending India will only push it into the rival camp, which [Beijing believes] is scheming to contain China by blocking the Malacca Strait and the Indian Ocean.” Sun Shihai, an adviser to the Chinese Association for South Asian Studies, told SCMP that he was concerned that the worst military stand-off in more than three decades would fuel anti-Chinese sentiment in India. “India is one of the most important strategic partners for China’s ‘Belt and Road Initiative’ because of its geographic location.”
Zhou Chenming (a military expert with Knowfar Institute for Strategic
and Defence Studies, a non-governmentthinktankinJiangyin,Jiangsu province, China) told SCMP that China was well aware of the futility of an all-out war for a desolate border area that is “frozen for up to eight months of the year”. India’s interest in enhancing its naval capabilities, especially its fleet of submarines, is believed to have been prompted by China’s military modernisation and its increased activity in the Indian Ocean and the narrow Malacca Strait, according to SCMP.