(This was originally posted in WION by Sidhant Sibal)
Highlighting the perils of China’s mega connectivity plans like the belt and road initiative (BRI), Indian army chief General MM Naravane has said that the project aims to ‘create regional dependencies’.
Speaking at Assam Rifles-United Services institution joint annual seminar, he said, “Regional Security Environment is characterized by Chinese belligerence in the Indo-Pacific, its hostility towards weaker nations and relentless drive to create regional dependencies through initiatives like the BRI. The resultant Sino-US rivalry has created regional imbalances & instability.”
BRI or the OBOR (belt and road initiative) is Beijing’s global infrastructure project, one whose key crucial component passes via Pakistan occupied Kashmir as CPEC – China Pakistan Economic Corridor. The project has known to create a debt crisis in many parts of the world, especially smaller countries that are unable to pay it, losing sovereignty over territories.
The Army Chief pointed out that, “Regional & internal connectivity is acutely linked to security” and “It is central to unleashing the potential of the North East and balancing the influence of China”.
Regionally, to the west, India has a Chabahar port project in Iran connecting it with Afghanistan, Central Asia, while to the east it is focusing on the Kaladan multimodal project and operationalization of the Sittwe port in Myanmar. The army chief explained that the “rising footprints of China in India’s neighborhood” and its “attempts to unilaterally alter the status-quo along our disputed borders have created an environment of confrontation & mutual distrust.”2020 was a year that saw an aggressive China, not only with India with which it had a multi-month long standoff at the line of actual control in Eastern Ladakh but also with countries like Japan, Taiwan, ASEAN countries in the south china sea, and even far off countries like Canada, Australia.
Interestingly, he spoke on Nepal, calling the country “our traditional long term partner” but one “which has witnessed heavy Chinese investment” and “is going through a period of political volatility.”
December saw Nepal PM KP Sharma Oli dissolving the lower house of the Parliament and this year will see elections in the country. As a result of the actions of the KP Sharma Oli, the Nepal communist party split, much to the chagrin of Beijing, who even had sent a top-ranking minister in a bid to stop the development.