June 05, 2014

China's Budding Ocean Empire

I am flattered by Nilanthi Samaranayake’s lengthy and respectful treatment of my March 2009 Foreign Affairs cover story about the importance of the Indian Ocean, on the article’s fifth anniversary. It is also five years since I published “Pakistan’s Fatal Shore” in The Atlantic (May 2009), an eyewitness account of several thousand words about my visit to the port of Gwadar in Balochistan. Samaranayake writes that Gwadar has not turned out to be the commercial success that my Foreign Affairs article intimated it would be. But in that Atlantic article, I provided a deeply reported summary of Gwadar’s very problems: something for which there was simply no space in my wide-ranging Foreign Affairs article, whose job it was to articulate a general theory of a vast region of the globe. In fact, in subsequent works, Monsoon (2010), The Revenge of Geography (2012), and Asia’s Cauldron, published this year, I have had the space for a full-bodied treatment of power rivalries in the Indo-Pacific. It is these works taken together that represent my thinking on the Greater Indian Ocean, which includes the South China Sea as an antechamber.

So let me summarize some principal themes of these works, to go along with Samaranayake’s many good points:

China is starting to build a commercial empire-of-sorts throughout two oceans—the Western Pacific and the Indian...
    • Commentary
    • World Politics Review
    • February 8, 2019
    How China and the U.S. Are Competing for Young Minds in Southeast Asia

    Business leaders at the World Economic Forum in Davos last month warned that China has overtaken the United States in the development of artificial intelligence and other emer...

    By Kristine Lee

    • Commentary
    • War on the Rocks
    • September 21, 2016
    China's Artificial Islands Are Bigger (And a Bigger Deal) Than You Think

    Surely you have heard the news — China has been dredging up coral reefs and creating artificial islands in the South China Sea with the purpose of enforcing their claims...

    By CDR Thomas Shugart, USN

    • Commentary
    • The National Interest
    • August 10, 2016
    Beijing's Go Big or Go Home Moment in the South China Sea

    China is preparing for its go or go home moment in the South China Sea and it appears they have chosen the right time to make a play for regional and, ultimately, global domin...

    By Jerry Hendrix

    • Commentary
    • Foreign Affairs
    • July 22, 2016
    Parting the South China Sea

    July 12, 2016, marked a turning point in the long-standing disputes over the South China Sea. After more than three years of proceedings at the Permanent Court of Arbitration,...

    By Mira Rapp-Hooper

View All Reports View All Articles & Multimedia