The fourth edition of the Military Literature Festival (MLF) saw a discussion on strategic shift in the pivot of geography where experts pointed to Chinese expansion and Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), noting that China was using economic leverage to extend its influence around the world.
Defence experts Ambassador Gurjit Singh, Lt Gen PM Bali (retd) and Brig Praveen Badrinath, a Chief Engineer of a Corps, discussed the issue, while Maj Gen Amritpal Singh, GOC of a Division in the Northern Command, moderated the session.
Lt Gen PM Bali (Retd) said that the last three decades have seen strategic rise of China, which has stared shifting geographical pivot in terms with the world’s economy. He said that as feared by international experts, China has set on its conquest over other countries through BRI by means of gaining control of host country’s economy. The countries agreeing to BRI claim to have long term capital gains, especially in maritime projects, but the same need to be seen.
Ambassador Gurjit Singh, former Indian diplomat, said during British times China was buffered by Tibet. But now thanks to connectivity and technology the world has flattened. Chinese are now building connectivity through large amount of railways and ports. He said that China was making inroads everywhere purely due to deep pockets.
Despite its much-hyped BRI project, China has failed to maintain its own domestic markets and has given severe economic shocks to countries where these BRI projects have been initiated as during corona times where it refused to pick up raw material. He warned that Chinese economic plans are fraught with danger. These are not economic plans but strategic projects that do not abide by timelines, he argued, while also dwelling on the Russian-Chinese relationship.
Brig Praveen Badrinath talked about Chinese perspective of heartland theory. He said that through the BRI corridors, smaller countries are falling prey to China road projects. He argued that pattern of events over last few decades indicates China was slowly but surely moving towards debt trapping nations. Sino-Russian cooperation has moved leaps and bounds. He added that what Russia had intended to do, China has managed to do. Maritime Silk Routes of Chine perfectly compliment its BRI route. Through BRI, China remains major contributor in Africa’s infrastructure.