Cartography of territorial grab

By K.N. Pandita

In its editorial of December 5, 2012, the Daily Excelsior commented on China’s ambitions in South China Sea and broadly in the Indian Ocean. It spoke of growing commercial rivalry between India and China in the region, particularizing gas blocks in Vietnam, the country with which India has cordial relations. China is now gradually unfolding her grandiose plans in South East Asia and her aspiration for pre-eminent naval power in the Indian Ocean.  

South East Asian countries have begun to feel the heat of rising aspirations of “Greater China”, and her eye on islands, border territories and waters of sovereign states of the region.

In an updated biometric version of the country’s passport, outline map shown on page 8 of these passports includes disputed areas as part of sovereign China. Taiwan, the Spratly and Paracel Island groups, and the Himalayan territories held in dispute with India are shown as components of a sovereign China.

It was only on May 25 last that headlines in international press spotlighted what Beijing intended to mean by the idea of Greater China. The neighbouring countries have taken this as an unfriendly move that has rattled diplomatic circles on both sides.

Closer analysis of Chinese move indicates that Beijing has something in mind beyond what is impressed on the pages of the passport. Beijing is out to assert her supremacy over the territories she thinks are her own. She wants an upper hand in the region in any case if not hegemony

It is now an open secret that China has given vent to her aspirations for naval dominance in the South China Sea and Indian Ocean to fondly impress upon the neighbouring countries that her supremacy is a foregone conclusion. This ambition is pursued through a number of means. China’s well-documented deep sea port construction projects in Hambantota (Sri Lanka) and Gwadar (Pakistan), along with the lesser-known port projects in Kyaukpyu, on Myanmar’s Ramree Island, have received a good degree of reportage in the Anglophone media in noting China’s commercial expansion into the Indian Ocean. This is heralding a degree of peer competition from the Indian Navy, which views the region as its inherent domain.

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