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How India's Necklace Of Diamonds Strategy Plans To Strangle China

June 23, 2022

China's policy of domination in the Indian ocean was dubbed 'String of Pearls' by the US defence contractor Booz Allen Hamilton.

Continuing with this trend, China came up with its One Belt, One Road initiative to conquer world trade. China strategically used Djibouti, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Myanmar's weak economic situation to surround India.

China spent billions of dollars building oil refineries, high-speed cables, and railway lines along with gas pipelines to build an alternate trade route around India.

Lastly, China is also building an extremely strategic railway line from London to China and another railway line from China to Iran, passing through Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan and ending in Tehran. With this, China intends to surround its rivals like India and eventually gain an economic advantage over the US.

The 'Necklace of Diamonds' is the name given to India's strategy to tackle the diplomatic implications of The Belt initiative China. 

Alfred Thayer, in his theory of sea dominance said, "Whoever conquers the Indian Ocean will dominate the whole of Asia."

The Indian Ocean consists of 28 countries, spanning three continents and covers 17.5% of the global land area. These countries include 21 members of the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA), including India, Iran, Malaysia, Australia, Bangladesh, Kenya, Oman, Singapore, South Africa, Sri Lanka, UAE and Yemen.

First, it is home to most of the fastest-growing countries in the world, and secondly, it is one of the most strategic regions which falls at the crossroads of global trade. It connects economies of the North Atlantic to ones in the Asia Pacific.

The major sea routes that connect Middle East, Africa, and East Asia with Europe and America also lie in the Indian Ocean. 80% of the entire world's Maritime oil trade is carried out through three narrow passages of the Indian Ocean, the Strait of Hormuz, the Strait of Malacca and the Strait of Bab El Mandeb.

The three points are also referred to as choke points because if they are captured, they can control all trade in the region.

Apart from these, there are also four important posts of the Mozambique channel, the Suez Canal, the Sunda Strait and the Lombok Strait.

China has already entered close to these chokepoints. To establish dominance over the Hormuz Strait, it has the Gwadar port in Pakistan on a 40-year lease.

For the other two points, China has trapped Djibouti. It is also enjoying a strategic Alliance with Indonesia to control important posts.

China has also established control over the port of Dar Es salam in Tanzania. Apart from this, the Indian Ocean contains some of the world's most precious resources, and a large portion of the resources of the Indian Ocean is yet to be explored.

It is said that 16.8% of the world's Reserves and 27.9% of natural gas reserves are in the Indian Ocean. This makes the Indian Ocean a key intersection zone of Indian and Chinese strategic interests. 

Unlike China, India is not announcing its strategy on megaphones. However, it is building a steady network called the Necklace of Diamonds.

To counter China's position at Gwadar and Djibouti, India has placed the Duqm port in Oman to control imports from the Persian Gulf. Due to India's cordial relations with the country, the Indian navy has full access to this port, which overlooks the Arabian sea and the Indian Ocean.

In 2015, India signed an agreement with the Seychelles to develop Assumption Island for military use, an important 'diamond'. However, it is in a shaky situation now with the change in the government.

Next, India has the Changi Naval Base near the chokepoint of the Malacca strait; India signed an agreement with the Singapore in 2018 wherein the navy has complete access to the port so that well sailing through the South China Sea, India can refuel and rearm its ship.

This is followed by the Sabang port of Indonesia, located at the entrance of the Malacca strait, so theoretically, India has a firm grip on the strait of Malacca. 70% of China's oil supply and 60% of their trade pass through this strait, so choking this point is like choking the Chinese economy.

Then there is the diamond of Vietnam, with which India has historically had friendly relations. India is the biggest source of arms for the Vietnamese army.

India also signed the Acquisition and Cross Servicing Agreement with Japan that will allow the armies of both countries to exchange supplies and services on a reciprocal basis, thus acting as another diamond.

India has also established a strong relationship with Mongolia by giving out one billion credits to develop an air corridor.

India also realised the importance of Iran, which is the endpoint of the new Chinese Railway line, so in 2015 when Iran faced crippling economic sanctions and diplomatic isolation, India agreed to develop a deepwater port in Chabahar in the Gulf of Oman.

On a world map, these points form a necklace-like structure that can be used to counter China in case of conflict. Moreover, it is a significant way of ensuring that the tiger can tame the dragon if necessary. 

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