String of Pearls
The String of Pearls is a geopolitical theory on potential Chinese intentions in the Indian Ocean region (IOR). It refers to the network of Chinese military and commercial facilities and relationships along its sea lines of communication, which extend from the Chinese mainland to Port Sudan in the Horn of Africa. The sea lines run through several major maritime choke points such as the Strait of Malacca, the Lombok Strait, the Strait of Hormuz and the Strait of Mandeb, and other strategic maritime hubs in Bangladesh, Somalia, Sri Lanka, and the Maldives.
Many commentators in India believe this plan, together with the China–Pakistan Economic Corridor and other parts of China's Belt and Road, is a menace to India's national security. This as such a system would surround India and threaten its power projection, trade, and potentially territorial integrity. Moreover, China's support for India's traditional enemy of Pakistan and its Gwadar Port is viewed as a threat, compounded by fears that China may develop an overseas naval military base in Gwadar, which could allow China to conduct expeditionary warfare in the IOR.
The term as a geopolitical concept was first used in an internal US Department of Defense report, "Energy Futures in Asia" in 2005. The term is also widely used in India's geopolitical and foreign policy narratives to highlight India's concerns over massive Chinese Belt and Road Initiative projects across southern Asia. In accordance with EUISS, the formation of Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (consisting of United States, India, Australia, and Japan) is a direct result of China's assertive foreign and security policy in the Indo-Pacific region.
The emergence of the String of Pearls is denotative of China's growing geopolitical influence through concerted efforts to increase access to airfields and ports, expand and advance military forces, and foster stronger diplomatic relationships with trading partners. The Chinese government urges that China's burgeoning naval strategy is entirely peaceful in behaviour and is only for the protection of regional trade interests. China asserted that it will never seek hegemony in foreign relations. Although it has been claimed that China's actions are creating a security dilemma between China and India in the Indian Ocean, that has been questioned by some analysts, who point to China's fundamental strategic vulnerabilities.