Image source: Narendra Modi, Flickr
Under Xi Jinping, China has solidified its claims in the South China Sea due to the ‘nine dash-line’ policy which lays claim to several island chains in the region. The policy has caused clashes with several countries under threat from China but it now appears Xi is expanding into the Indian Ocean too.
According to Indian government officials, approximately six Chinese research vessels have been spotted in the region this month.
Moreover, around 600 Chinese fishing ships have been spotted in the region since 2015. Although there have been no standoffs between the two countries, the Indian Navy has warned Beijing, it will act if its sovereignty is “impinged”.
Navy Chief Admiral Karambir Singh said earlier this month: “We are all aware of the numbers, the tonnage, the number of ships, everything that is growing.
“We have seen in the Indian Ocean region itself starting 2008 when they came in for the anti-piracy patrol.
“Before that, they weren’t really very obvious in the Indian Ocean region but now you find that at any given time, seven to eight PLA warships are in that area.
“We have placed our ships in mission-based deployments so that we get an idea what are the activities, not only of China but of all other countries.
“If anything impinges on our national interest or sovereignty, we will have to act.”
Experts have stated Chinese fishing vessels are in the area to exploit the “lucrative” fishing resources.
Moreover, formed in 2013, Xi has instituted the ‘Belt and Road’ initiative.
Under the project, China hopes to connect to Europe, Africa and Asia through a range of infrastructure projects.
Overall, the plan involves 71 countries and is expected to cost £760billion.
Ports, rail line and telecommunications networks will be built across the world as China looks to increase its political influence.
Jane Golley, an associate professor at Australian National University said: “They’ve presented this very grand initiative which has frightened people.
“Rather than using their economic power to make friends, they’ve drummed up more fear that it will be about influence.”
Moreover, the plan will likely clash with the US as China looks to increase its global influence.
This week, certain US political figures expressed their outrage after Boris Johnson granted Chinese telecom firm Huawei access to its 5g network.
Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo travelled to the UK this week and underlined his opposition to Huawei’s access.
Mr Pompeo said: “We will never permit American international security information to go across a network that we don’t have trust and confidence in.
“That’s the standard, whether it is a Microsoft system, it is the same whether it is an Ericsson Nokia system, that’s the standard if it is a Chinese system.
“We will work with our UK counterparts, and I know the Australians, the New Zealanders, all others in the Five Eyes, will work together to ensure the systems are sufficiently secure and they are going to deliver the outcomes we need them to deliver, and that we have only a level of risk in the system that we find tolerable.”
This article was originally published on Express.