Date of Award


Degree Type

UG Dissertation

First Advisor

Dr. Zhang Baohui


This thesis contends that China pursues the String of Pearls Strategy for now, primarily for mercantile purposes and as a means to ensure energy security and not to contest the US or deliberately threaten India. All countries depend on sea channels for trade; hence they seek stability at sea and sea control. China is no exception. I believe that China will abide by the ‘peaceful rise’ mandate as too much is at stake for her both domestically and internationally. This will hold true as long as China’s interests are safe. The evidence presented here forth, will substantiate that the steps taken by China have been non-confrontational, but still manage to intimidate the other Asian giant; India because of decades of mistrust and rivalry. In fact this issue is just an extension of decades of growing rivalry between the two powers, vying for regional hegemony. Mistrust leads to the misjudgment of actions and drives both sides to expect the worst behavior from their rival. As India perceives the ‘pearls’ as Chinese military strongholds encompassing the Indian territory, I endeavor to argue that this is a highly unlikely short-term possibility. Military bases may not be as critical now as they were in the past due to developments in technology especially C4SIR. The reaction from the ‘pearls’ themselves also supports the notion of China’s mercantilist intentions. This does not entirely rule out the fact that the commercial ports established could be upgraded to naval bases in the future, but, for now, the purpose stated by China seems credible. Nevertheless, this short term tension has potential to turn into long term tension. Assuming China continues to be a rational actor in international affairs, the only circumstances that will force her to assume an aggressive stance would be provocation either by blocking the sea lanes or trade routes or perhaps a major global incident could trigger conflict.

Recommended Citation

Ali, M. I. (2013). The implications of China’s ‘String of Pearls Strategy’ on relations with Indian Ocean nations (UG dissertation, Lingnan University, Hong Kong). Retrieved from