中国とインド洋 影響力増大は地域の軍拡招く

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Mar. 3, 2013)
China's maritime strategy causing regional arms race
中国とインド洋 影響力増大は地域の軍拡招く(3月2日付・読売社説)

A recent move by China clearly signals that the incoming administration of Xi Jinping seeks to increase its influence in the Indian Ocean as part of its aim to become a maritime giant with massive naval strength.

A state-run Chinese company has taken over the management of Gwadar Port in western Pakistan from a Singaporean firm. The port was built with Chinese government aid.

Situated on the Arabian Sea in the northwestern Indian Ocean, the port is a strategic point near the Strait of Hormuz, a key oil shipping lane from the Middle East to Asia.

In addition to seeking more control of the East and South China seas to develop marine resources, China is stepping up efforts to secure maritime interests such as Northern Sea Routes and sea lanes to the Middle East and Africa.

The Chinese government has claimed that acquiring the management rights to Gwadar Port is part of its policy of economic cooperation. However, the company involved in the acquisition is a state-backed corporation--one that plays a role in implementing the country's national strategies.

Concerns that China may eventually use the port for military purposes cannot be dispelled.


Worries over 'String of Pearls'

In addition to Gwadar, China has helped develop ports in other countries on the Indian Ocean, such as in Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. A map of ports with Chinese involvement now looks like a necklace encircling India.

Calling the ports a "String of Pearls," the United States is keeping its eye on this and other attempts by China to increase its geopolitical influence.

We believe India has reason to be concerned over Beijing's control of Gwadar Port.

One alarming thing about China's desire to become a maritime power is that it has intensified the arms race in the region.

Recently, India increased efforts to counter China's military buildup, such as by developing submarine-launched ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads and purchasing foreign-made fighter jets. However, these moves could also prompt action from Pakistan, which has an ongoing border dispute with India.

In the East China Sea, a Chinese naval vessel locked its fire-control radar on a Maritime Self-Defense Force ship earlier this year. The Chinese Navy's attitude has become increasingly provocative.


Cooperation with India is key

To deal with the regional instability caused by China's actions, Japan and the United States need to work together with India.

In late January, Japan and India held their first-ever talks on maritime affairs. During the talks, the two countries agreed on the importance of ensuring freedom of the seas based on international law, as the seas are significantly important for the good of international society. We urge the two nations to deepen cooperation in many areas, including shipbuilding and port development.

A safe Indian Ocean is also essential to Japan's economic growth.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, March 2, 2013)
(2013年3月2日01時04分  読売新聞)

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