NEW DELHI (Agencies): India is expanding its maritime investments, following a strategy similar to China’s “string of pearls”. After investing in ports in Iran, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, and Oman, India is now planning to invest in a port in the Philippines, a country currently in a territorial dispute with China in the South China Sea.

In 2024, India made significant progress by investing in foreign ports. The Sri Lankan government, having experienced a debt trap due to Chinese investments, decided to renovate its Kankesanturai Port with 100% Indian funding. India, in partnership with a Russian firm, secured management rights for the Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport in Hambantota, Sri Lanka, which was developed through Chinese loans.

Adani Group, an Indian firm, is planning to invest in a port in the Philippines through its subsidiary, Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone Limited (APSEZ). APSEZ aims to develop a deep port in the Bataan province that can accommodate Panamax vessels.

In July 2022, APSEZ partnered with the Gadot Group in Israel and won the lease to privatize Israel’s second-largest port, the Port of Haifa, for US $1.18 billion. The Indian government assumed control of the operations of a portion of the Shahid Beheshti Port, Chabahar, Iran, on December 24, 2018. This port is Iran’s sole deep-sea port with direct access to the ocean.

After Chabahar, India gained the right to operate a second overseas port, Sittwe, in Myanmar. India constructed the deep water Sittwe Port in Myanmar in 2016. The port was constructed as part of the Kaladan Multi-Modal Transit Transport Project.

India also entered an agreement with Oman for military use and logistical support in the new Port of Duqm, which seems like a part of India’s grand strategy to strengthen its maritime posture in the Indian Ocean Region.

China, on the other hand, has acquired a total of 101 port projects. There are dual-use (commercial and military) ports owned, constructed, or operated by Chinese firms. China operates or owns at least one port in every continent except Antarctica. Of the 101 projects, 92 are active, whereas the remaining nine port projects have become inactive due to cancellation or suspension by the end of September 2023.

The three Chinese-run ports in South Asia – Chittagong in Bangladesh, Hambantota in Sri Lanka, and Gwadar in Pakistan – are called a “triangle of death” encircling India. Chinese submarines and warships will dock right under India’s nose very soon. Apart from supplying submarines to the Bangladesh Navy, China is constructing a port in Cox’s Bazar, which was inaugurated in 2023.

By Media

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