BELT AND ROAD IN THE PACIFIC OCEAN

Our final and main objective was, in 2016, to consider the emergence of the Indian Ocean as the center of 21st-century maritime container commerce with Sri Lanka as the hub and Africa becoming an essential vector.

We concentrated on the modern period, the macro-geographic data and situations in and around the Indian Ocean and on one particular aspect: the development of the hub-and-spoke model for the network of maritime connections in, around and beyond the Indian Ocean as for container commerce. We were writing after the end of the Tamil Tigers terroristic civil war in Sri Lankan, hence in 2010 and subsequent years. Mahinda Rajapaksa was President and Gotabaya Rajapaksa was the minister who led the final military offensive and won the war.

We insisted on the hub itself, Sri Lanka, which was at the time changing rapidly; on some of the various harbors around the Indian Ocean and their inland goods transportation networks, essentially railroads and highways; on the projects in that field, particularly the New Silk Road of the Chinese that has become now the belt and road initiative route; on the bottlenecks of the Suez Canal and the Strait of Malacca, for quite different reasons; and on the dead-end of the Persian Gulf, except as the starting point of a hinterland network that would, and will, develop when the wars and insecurity there are stabilized. And this last point has not changed at all.

We envisaged the various routes beyond and the final destinations. We only mentioned the railroad connection between Asia and Europe using the trans-Siberian railroad and beyond to Hamburg and Madrid, as a competing alternative. We eventually showed how backward in that field of container maritime commerce the USA was, and nothing has basically changed, backward as compared to the world and absent from the Indian Ocean and the China Seas as an actor in that container maritime commerce, but not as a military “challenger.”

We then moved to the various organizations that had direct interests in the development of this hub and spoke network of maritime connections and routes in the Indian Ocean. But this led us to the security infrastructure to manage the movements of the ships (to avoid flags of convenience) and the various trafficking activities that are to be contained (human trafficking; smuggling weapons, military equipment and various goods; not to mention criminal activities of any other type) with the challenge of who can do it and how. We then saw clearly the stake attached to the re-emergence of human trafficking and slavery in this vast area, which justifies a long study of slavery in this zone from very ancient times.

This security problem was and more than ever is central due to piracy and trafficking. Digitalized satellite surveillance will have to be set up for the whole Indian Ocean. What role will the USA and Europe play now the New Silk Road with the Silk Railway from China to Germany reached Spain on December 9, 2014, and the maritime Silk Road reached Western Europe quite some time ago? The Chinese were making contacts in Afghanistan to open, after the departure of the Americans, the link between Kazakhstan and Gwadar harbor, Pakistan. China Harbor Engineering Company Ltd and other Chinese companies were involved in harbor equipment and railroad development all around the Indian Ocean.

Our general hypothesis was that the evolution at that time was the refoundation of what existed up to 1433, and the Indian Ocean is becoming again the center of the world’s maritime commerce, under the strong pioneering leadership of the Chinese.

Dr. Jacques COULARDEAU & Ivan Eve

TO BELT AND ROAD INITIATIVE, An Update (January 2020)

Dr. Jacques COULARDEAU

Our final and main objective was, in 2016, to consider the emergence of the Indian Ocean as the center of 21st-century maritime container commerce with Sri Lanka as the hub and Africa becoming an essential vector.

We concentrated on the modern period, the macro-geographic data and situations in and around the Indian Ocean and on one particular aspect: the development of the hub-and-spoke model for the network of maritime connections in, around and beyond the Indian Ocean as for container commerce. We were writing after the end of the Tamil Tigers terroristic civil war in Sri Lankan, hence in 2010 and subsequent years. Mahinda Rajapaksa was President and Gotabaya Rajapaksa was the minister who led the final military offensive and won the war.

We insisted on the hub itself, Sri Lanka, which was at the time changing rapidly; on some of the various harbors around the Indian Ocean and their inland goods transportation networks, essentially railroads and highways; on the projects in that field, particularly the New Silk Road of the Chinese that has become now the Belt and Road Initiative; on the bottlenecks of the Suez Canal and the Strait of Malacca, for quite different reasons; and on the dead-end of the Persian Gulf, except as the starting point of a hinterland network that would, and will, develop when the wars and insecurity there are stabilized. And this last point has not changed at all.

We envisaged the various routes beyond and the final destinations. We only mentioned the railroad connection between Asia and Europe using the trans-Siberian railroad and beyond to Hamburg and Madrid, as a competing alternative. We eventually showed how backward in that field of container maritime commerce the USA was, and nothing has basically changed, backward as compared to the world and absent from the Indian Ocean and the China Seas as an actor in that container maritime commerce, but not as a military “challenger.”

We then moved to the various organizations that had direct interests in the development of this hub and spoke network of maritime connections and routes in the Indian Ocean. But this led us to the security infrastructure to manage the movements of the ships (to avoid flags of convenience) and the various trafficking activities that are to be contained (human trafficking; smuggling weapons, military equipment and various goods; not to mention criminal activities of any other type) with the challenge of who can do it and how. We then saw clearly the stake attached to the re-emergence of human trafficking and slavery in this vast area, which justifies a long study of slavery in this zone from very ancient times.

This security problem was and more than ever is central due to piracy and trafficking. Digitalized satellite surveillance will have to be set up for the whole Indian Ocean. What role will the USA and Europe play now the New Silk Road with the Silk Railway from China to Germany reached Spain on December 9, 2014, and the maritime Silk Road reached Western Europe quite some time ago? The Chinese were making contacts in Afghanistan to open, after the departure of the Americans, the link between Kazakhstan and Gwadar harbor, Pakistan. China Harbor Engineering Company Ltd and other Chinese companies were involved in harbor equipment and railroad development all around the Indian Ocean.

Our general hypothesis was that the evolution at that time was the refoundation of what existed up to 1433, and the Indian Ocean is becoming again the center of the world’s maritime commerce, under the strong pioneering leadership of the Chinese.

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