A high-powered delegation led by US National Security Council Indo-Pacific Coordinator Kurt Campbell and Deputy INDOPACOM Commander read the riot book to Solomon Islands Prime Minister over the country’s security deal with Communist China on April 22. The message was straightforward and direct: if the Solomon Islands allow China to create a military post or facility in the distant Pacific, the US will retaliate.
The Chinese ambition to construct choke spots in the Indo-Pacific will undoubtedly come up for discussion at the QUAD summit in Tokyo on May 24, as these moves will have long-term consequences for the free and open seas.If the Communist Party of China decides to militarily assimilate the Republic of Taiwan with its sea-based capabilities, particularly nuclear submarines crossing the first Island chain encircling mainland China, the situation becomes extremely dangerous.
While the Solomon Islands Prime Minister tried to reassure American officials by saying that China would not be allowed to build a base in the far Pacific, the truth is that China has been able to acquire strategic chokepoints all over the Indo-Pacific under the guise of the Belt Road Initiative (BRI) and bilateral cooperation, posing a direct threat to democratic QUAD.
Choke-point strategy is already obvious in north and south America, with China and its state-owned corporations establishing footholds in Panama and the Port of Ushuaia in the Magellan Strait. When you add in the Solomon Islands and China’s position in Malaysia and Indonesia, two countries divided by the strategically important Malacca Straits, the Pacific picture becomes grim for security strategists.
At the Indian Ocean, the scenario is similar, with China developing bases in Hambantota, Sri Lanka, Gwadar, Pakistan, and Djibouti. The Chinese have leverage in the Persian Gulf and Gulf of Oman with Gwadar, the Red Sea with Djibouti, and the major trade route to South and North Asia with Hambantota in Sri Lanka, while South Africa is already heavily indebted to China.
All of these countries are heavily indebted to China, with Sri Lanka and Pakistan on the point of economic catastrophe unless the Bretton Woods institutions bail them out or they become more enslaved in Chinese debt.
Despite Pakistan’s status as a client state, separatist Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) female suicide bomber Shari Baloch struck Chinese officials outside the Confucius Institute in Karachi this week, throwing the Chinese preparations in Gwadar into disarray.
The Pakistan Army will have a difficult time preserving Beijing’s interests in the Islamic Republic, with the Taliban on the rampage against Islamabad over the Durand Line barrier and the Baloch becoming increasingly hostile against the Chinese. Pakistan’s restive politics and economic turmoil will only make matters worse for them, since its previous jihadist exports are now coming home to roost.
The situation in Sri Lanka is far worse, with mass protests taking place across the island nation as a result of the Rajapaksa regime’s bad governance, which has resulted in rising inflation, food and fuel shortages, and accumulating debt. Rather than taking corrective action, Sri Lanka, like Pakistan, is seeking President Xi Jinping’s blessing in order to roll over its multibillion-dollar debt in exchange for additional stock for Chinese corporations in infrastructure projects.
The Chinese BRI, which is based on the East India Company model, now has a debt grip on nations with strategic sites in the Indo-Pacific, which is a source of major concern for the QUAD nations as the PLA Navy gains blue water status by the day.The Tokyo QUAD meeting will only be successful if Japan abandons its pacifist policy and others are not afraid to name China as the actual threat to the Indo-Pacific.