Focus: GS-II International Relations
Why in news?
- Recent satellite images appear to show that several new complexes have been built by China in the last few years and one of them in Gwadar, identified as being used by a Chinese company involved in port development, has unusually high security.
- Whether the Chinese naval base materializes remains to be seen. But these new sites, including the heavily defended compound, may indicate that the next phase of port construction is imminent.
Significance of Gwadar Port
- Located at the western end of Pakistan’s coast, Gwadar is expected to be a major port in China’s Belt and Road Initiative.
- This will allow Chinese goods to shortcut through Pakistan, instead of sailing all the way around South Asia.
- If the Chinese Navy does begin using the port, it will highly strengthen their capabilities in the Indian Ocean.
What is Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) One Belt One Road (OBOR)?
- One Belt One Road (OBOR), also called the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), the brainchild of Chinese President Xi Jinping, is an ambitious economic development and commercial project that focuses on improving connectivity and cooperation among multiple countries spread across the continents of Asia, Africa, and Europe spanning about 78 countries.
- Initially announced in the year 2013 with the purpose of restoring the ancient Silk Route that connected Asia and Europe.
- The project involves building a big network of roadways, railways, maritime ports, power grids, oil and gas pipelines, and associated infrastructure projects.
- The project covers two parts. The first is called the “Silk Road Economic Belt,” which is primarily land-based and is expected to connect China with Central Asia, Eastern Europe, and Western Europe.
- The second is called the “21st Century Maritime Silk Road,” which is sea-based and is expected to will China’s southern coast to the Mediterranean, Africa, South-East Asia, and Central Asia.
- Landlocked Nepal has recently joined OBOR by signing a deal that will help it improve cross-border connectivity with China, and Pakistan is set to benefit from the $46 billion China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) that will connect southwestern China to and through Pakistan, allowing access to Arabian Sea routes.