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  • Sri Lanka’s Discarded Balancing Act between India and China Explained

    On 1 October 2021, Indian media and academia once again awakened from its sea-blindness to news coming through that India’s Adani Group has sealed a deal with the state-owned Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) to develop and run the strategic Colombo Port’s Western Container Terminal. Newsroom and academic circles once again began reveling in India’s new strategic heft in the island after a year of disappointing Indo-Sri Lanka bilateral relations. Understanding why the terminal deal is of high significance to India will require a brief description of Sri Lanka’s recent regional and global patterns of behavior that has been a cause of much frustration for New Delhi lately.

  • Geopositional Balancing: Understanding China’s Investments in Sri Lanka

    The String of Pearls concept informs a general viewpoint about the strategic end of Chinese investments, but it seems to lack the explanatory power to flesh out the dynamics involved to alter the balance of power in the region. To add some heft to the analysis, I utilize Dr. Jeremy Garlick’s concept of geopositional balancing to supplement our understanding of the String of Pearls beyond merely that of another buzzword. This article deepens the knowledge of China’s activities in the Indian Ocean by also utilizing an understudied variant of balancing. I examine China’s engagement with Sri Lanka as a case study.

  • Volume 04 Issue 5 - Fall 2021

    Volume 04 Issue 5 - Fall 2021

  • China’s Scattered Pearls: How the Belt and Road Initiative Is Reclaiming the “String of Pearls” and More

    The countries that were originally considered to be part of the String of Pearls quite easily fit into the BRI with their strategic naval outposts. When one takes a closer look at Chinese engagement in the Indian Ocean, it is evident that China’s involvement in the region is not limited to strategic locations or high-­risk investments, but it also extends to securing long-­term strategic ties with governments and people of these countries. Therefore, one could argue that, particularly under the BRI, Beijing has gone beyond what was initially perceived as a few strategic outposts in the Indian Ocean to secure China’s trade and energy supply routes to a grander vision of being a global power that can project power in countries on the other side of the globe. Therefore, one could argue that China’s interest in the Indo-­Pacific goes beyond merely securing trade routes or even ensuring a strategic presence. If the West continues with the narrative of a debt trap and fails to take the growing expansionism in China seriously, the developing nations of the Global South will find “an all-­weather friend” and “a preferred development partner” in China. 

  • The Malign Influence of the People’s Republic of China in International Affairs

    The People’s Republic of China (PRC) continues to aggressively seek a return to international prominence and has increasingly amplified its presence as a global power. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has made it abundantly clear that it has plans to reshape the world order more to Beijing’s liking. Within the Indo-­Pacific, the PRC has strategically crafted its international policies through its signature Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), designed to gain advantage and leverage Beijing’s growing economic and military might. According to the Council on Foreign Relations, President Xi Jinping’s vision includes “creating a vast network of railways, energy pipelines, highways, and streamlined border crossings, both westward—through the mountainous former Soviet republics—and southward, to Pakistan, India, and the rest of Southeast Asia.” Through this framework, four observable tactics have emerged: the use of debt diplomacy, border disputes with neighboring nations, the general disregard for agreements and international norms, and, more recently, Beijing’s undermining actions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Arguably, an objective observer could consider the PRC’s international policies to be subversive and, at a bare minimum, have the potential to impact the entire Indo-­Pacific region.

  • Terrorism in the Indo-Pacific: The Year Gone By and the Road Ahead

    Globally, terrorism has been on the decline since peaking in 2014, the year that the Islamic State (ISIS) declared its “caliphate” in the Middle East. Nevertheless, terrorism levels are still approximately double what they were a decade ago and around five times what they were in 2001. The Indo-Pacific region, which encompasses most of Asia, as well as North America, Australasia, Oceania, and parts of South America, consistently experiences some of the highest rates of terrorism in the world, and 2019 was no exception. This article, though by no means an exhaustive account, provides a roughly chronological overview of significant terrorist activities in the Indo-Pacific during the past year, with a particular focus on South and Southeast Asia. This is followed by several important advances in counterterrorism (CT). The article concludes by considering what these, and other developments, may portend for the future.
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