Militarisation of China’s Energy Security Policy – Defence Cooperation and WMD Proliferation Along its String of Pearls in the Indian Ocean
Lin, Christina Y., Dr.
Corporate nameEuropean Commission / Directorate General for External Relations
This paper provides an assessment of the threat of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) proliferation from China, and highlights a link between China’s energy security policy and WMD proliferation. It puts forth the suggestive argument that China’s energy-driven foreign policy is taking a form of a “String of Pearls” grand strategy that aims to achieve resource and maritime security along its energy supply routes stretching from the Persian Gulf to the Indian Ocean to the Malacca Straits. Having established key “pearls” of WMD client states of Iran in the Middle East, Pakistan in South Asia, and DPRK in East Asia, China is procuring additional pearl nodes along the Indian Ocean (e.g., Sri Lanka, Burma, Bangladesh, etc.) and establishing naval ports, electronic surveillance, military cooperation, nuclear technology and bio-chemical weapons cooperation with these nodes. This “arms for oil” trade policy with resource-rich countries in the Persian Gulf, and military concessions as well as defence cooperation for forward-bases with countries along the Indian Ocean littoral, have serious international security implications for the E.U., U.S. and her allies in Asia. With China’s rapid military (especially naval) modernisation and perceived declining U.S. influence in the region, concerned Asian powers such as Japan and South Korea in northeast Asia, ASEAN countries in southeast Asia, and India in South Asia, might be spurred into a competitive arms race and WMD proliferation in the region—especially India which fears strategic encirclement by China. Nonetheless, these challenges provide cooperative opportunities for the E.U., U.S. and Asia to harness the underlying competitive drive and engage India and China via multilateral organisations such as IEA, APEC, ARF to address the collective common goals of energy security and economic growth.