GRM 2010 GRM 2011

Abstract Details

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From the Indian Ocean to the Arabian Gulf: China’s Seaport Construction along the Maritime Silk Road
Paper Proposal Text :
China is the predominant seaport constructor of the world, and among the world top ten seaports in terms of container traffic, six are from China, including Shanghai, the largest seaport in the world. Different from the US, Russian, British and French foreign strategies of deploying overseas naval bases, the Chinese have a bias for extending its geo-economic presence. So far China has extensively participated in the commercial seaport constructions along the Maritime Silk Road, and has built a “commercial string of pearls” stretching from the South China Sea to the Indian Ocean and to the Gulf.
China Overseas Port Holding, China Road & Bridge Corporation, China COSCO Shipping Group, China Merchants Port Holdings Co. Ltd., China Shipping Port Development Co. Ltd., China Harbor Engineering Company Ltd., China Landbridge Group and Shanghai International Port Group are the leading seaport constructors along the Maritime Silk Road, which have heavy investments in three sub-regions: (1) China’s seaport constructions in Bay of Bengal, such as Kyaukpyu of Myanmar, Chittagong of Bangladesh, Hambantota and Port Colombo of Sri Lanka; (2) China’s seaport constructions in the Western Indian Ocean, such as Gwadar of Pakistan, Mombasa Port of Kenya, Port Djibouti, and Port Sudan; (3) China’s participation in the seaport constructions in the Arabian Gulf, such as Doqm of Oman, Jidda of Saudi Arabia and Chabahar of Iran.
The paper draws five conclusions: first, in the Indian Ocean and the Arabian Gulf, seaports are the crucial pivots connecting the host nations’ national economy with world economy; second, the Indian Ocean and the Gulf seaport constructions are the essential tasks of China’s maritime silk road initiative, a geo-economic road, aiming to avoid regional political entanglement, but may find it hard to seek economic benefits while putting aside security rivalry; third, China’s seaports constructions in the regions are, albeit geo-economic, may be perceived and interpreted as geo-political expansion; fourth, the fundamental threats to China’s port construction is a portfolio of ethnic, religious and social contradictions of the host nations as well as great power rivalries; finally, outside powers’ seaport constructions, such as India-Iran-Pakistan-Turkmenistan cooperation on Chabahar port vis-à-vis China-Pakistan cooperation on Gwadar port are not necessarily a zero-sum game. Instead, it resembles the KFC vis-à-vis McDonalds relations: both competitive and mutually interdependent.