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China in recent years flexing its muscles in Indo-Pacific

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In order to pursue its global strategy and goals which seek to advance its glory, China, in recent years, has been more ambitious and bolder.

Beijing has, in particular, focused on its need for a more comprehensive presence in all areas of the maritime domain and has paved the path for China to evolve into a maritime ‘great power’ through an increasingly-forceful approach that appears to be unmindful of national and regional sensitivities.

According to the agencies, as Indo-Pacific is a huge economic and commercial powerhouse housing some of the world’s largest and most powerful economies, China’s increasing assertiveness on maritime issues within the region, over the past few decades, has led to significant geostrategic flux in the region.

China’s endeavours in the Indo-Pacific are largely motivated by economic interests and the need to ensure the safety of its maritime trade, especially the import of crude oil.

A major part of China’s outreach-grand strategy in the Indo-Pacific region aimed at extending its global sphere of influence is the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) while fostering new norms of international economic cooperation and promoting a more China-dominated rules-based order.

The BRI is widely recognized as Beijing’s ambitious strategy to dominate the region and the world by building infrastructural networks throughout Eurasia and Africa. Developing and enhancing marine connectivity and interconnections are crucial elements of the BRI. The “String of Pearls” is another significant theatrical strategy of Beijing.

By making investments in geopolitically significant ports from Sudan to Hong Kong, China is dominating vital choke points in the Indian Ocean region.

The neighbouring nations, especially India, are literally encircled by this strategy. Encirclement of India is an important geopolitical concern in the Indo-Pacific with regard to China’s aggressive maritime strategy, mentions the publication in European Times.

Questions about China’s long-term goals in the Asia-Pacific area are being raised due to the country’s massive military buildup and expansion of its naval and marine capabilities.

China’s Anti-access Area-denial (A2/AD) strategy aims to prevent an adversary’s access to a territorial region (anti-access) and deny their freedom of movement on the battlefield (are denial).

Beijing has made efforts to develop its effective A2/AD capabilities to deter possible access to its territories by potential adversaries.

In preparation for potential emergencies resulting from its territorial disputes in regions including the Taiwan Strait, the Spratly Islands, the Paracel Islands, and the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands, Beijing is bolstering its defence capabilities at a tactical level through military drills, according to the agencies.

China’s continuous maritime expansionism, its indulgence in lawfare, which is formally supported by national maritime legislation, and its rising military might all work together to create significant threats and have a negative influence on the current rules-based system.

A fresh set of alliances, collaborations, and concerns have grown out of this crisis, many of which are impliedly or directly directed against China.

The Quadrilateral Dialogue, including India, United States of America, Japan and Australia, which held its second in-person meeting in May this year, has broadened its scope. However, there is still more to be done to promote “holistic maritime security”, mentions the publication.

Though Quad is not a security grouping or alliance and its leaders maintain that it is not directed against any other country.

However, many see it as a group to check growing Chinese activities which impinge on the freedom of navigation, sovereignty and territorial integrity in the region. Several announcements were made during the last summit meeting between the Quad leaders in Tokyo which are apparently aimed at the moves of Beijing.

Among various strategic announcements, the Indo-Pacific partnership for Maritime Domain Awareness is seen as a big takeaway.

The move will keep a check on illegal fishing in the Indo-Pacific and may use real-time high technologies including satellites to track illegal movement. This may not suit Beijing, according to the experts.

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