All global chokepoints are currently under pressure from China’s One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative through which Beijing intends to displace the US and its allies from the Indo-Pacific region, a top American commander told lawmakers today. “One Belt One Road is, in fact, much more than just an economic engine that China is undertaking,” Admiral Harry Harris, Commander of the US Pacific Command told members of the House Armed Services Committee during a Congressional hearing on Indo-Pacific region.
Harris said it is a good thing as long as it seeks to link economically the population of China with markets and resources in Europe, and Africa, and Central Asia. “Anything you put to improve the quality of life for folks through trade is a positive. But I think also that OBOR seeks to displace the United States and our friends and allies in the region, in the Indo-Pacific region by China,” Harris said.
“It is a concerted, strategic endeavour by China to gain a foothold and displace the United States and our allies and partners in the region,” he said. One needs to look at the bases and places where China is putting its emphasis to see the realisation of this, he said. “They are in a position today to influence the shipping routes in the Strait of Hormuz, in the Gulf of Aden, the Red Sea which means the Suez Canal, and also in our hemisphere in the Panama Canal,” he said.
“Also, finally in the Strait of Malacca, all those global chokepoints are under pressure from China’s One Belt One Road initiative,” Harris said. Notably, India was the first country to object to OBOR, part of which passes through the Pak-Occupied Kashmir. India has said that the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) violates India’s sovereignty. Last year India had skipped China’s OBOR summit.
Following India’s objections, many countries including the United States have come out openly against China’s OBOR. Touted as Chinese President Xi Jinping’s ambitious project, the One Belt One Road initiative focuses on improving connectivity and cooperation among Asian countries, Africa, China and Europe.