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China's 'debt trap' economics will likely result in it gaining greater access to nations around India: US think-tank

Press Trust of India  |  Washington 

An influential US think-tank expert has warned that the increasing Chinese of "debt trap" will likely result in gaining greater access to several key countries around

Richard D Fisher, Senior fellow at International Assessment and Strategy Centre, told members of the during a hearing on 'China's Worldwide Military Expansion' that the Chinese economic and 'debt trap' pressures will likely result in gaining greater access to bases in Sri Lanka, Pakistan, and perhaps the

"carries about USD 8 billion in Chinese debt but has a close military relationship, purchasing many of its latest from China," he said in his testimony yesterday.

He also said assumes that in case of a major conflict with China, there could be a coordinated military action from

Recently, has decided to upgrade its military facilities on the Nicobar Islands, which could restrict access to the Indian Ocean, he said.

"Indian planning already assumes that a major conflict with could see coordinated military action from Pakistan," Fisher said.

During the 2017 Dokalam confrontation with China, India was ready for conflict with as well, he claimed.

In February-March 2018, a government crisis in the Maldives, 400 km South of India, combined with simmering Indian concern over growing Chinese influence, saw both India and deploy forces for signalling, Fisher said.

India deployed air assault forces to bases closer to the Maldives, while China sent into the Eastern a group centred around a Type 071 amphibious assault ship to assure its friends in the government, he said.

"It is instructive that even though its amphibious projection forces are small, China was bold enough to employ them to deter India. China will likely show greater activism in support of its friends when it has to deploy and obtains greater military access to bases," Fisher said.

China is critical of the Japanese proposal, more recently boosted by the Trump administration, for Australia, Japan, India and the US to form a "Quad" for the purpose of increasing coordination and eventual strategic cooperation, he said.

Director and said China has mass investment and construction projects in countries that offer potential access to the Indian Ocean, such as and

In addition to infrastructure and capital investment, China has bought up many global ports around key trade routes and maritime choke-points, usually first for commercial purposes and then sometimes transitioning their use for military assets as well.

"An example of this is the in Pakistan, where first invested heavily to secure ownership over a strategic trading base and eventually the began conducting port visits.

"In Sri Lanka, and Djibouti, Chinese investment in civilian ports have likewise been followed by deployments or visits of PLAN vessels," Blumenthal said.

has become China's first overseas military base, he added.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Fri, May 18 2018. 13:55 IST