Monday, March 21, 2005

ASSESSMENT : Chinese Navy is growing, and expanding its reach in Asia to secure oil and gas supplies

Alarm bells are ringing in Washington, where some see a pattern in Beijing's naval build-up, combined with a foreign-port building spree and efforts to secure maritime oil-transport routes. An internal report circulated among Pentagon officials late last year says Beijing is assembling a "string of pearls"—including ports, listening posts and naval agreements from Pakistan to Bangladesh to Burma—to protect its fragile oil-supply routes. Gwadar is critical, because it would provide the Chinese a listening post for monitoring ship traffic to and from the oil-rich Middle East, according to the report, which asserts that China is building up naval power at maritime "chokepoints... to deter the potential disruption of energy supplies from potential threats, including the U.S. Navy." China's naval outreach program is of concern to New Delhi, too, and was an underlying theme during U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's visit to India last week................More