Student Research

Twists and Turns Along the Maritime Silk Road

The Maritime Silk Road is a Chinese foreign policy launched in 2013 as a part of China’s One Belt One Road Initiative. The Maritime Silk Road is a vast infrastructure and investment project that stretches from eastern China to Europe. China instituted the MSR with the objective of securing important Sea Lanes of Communication, expansion of trade through infrastructure investments, and to increase its influence to a global scale. This paper aims to investigate the following research questions based on the case studies of Sri Lanka and Myanmar: How do Chinese interactions between itself, Sri Lanka and Myanmar differ because of China’s distinct goals in each country?; What are the economic, geopolitical, and naval goals China will achieve by means of investment in Sri Lanka and Myanmar? How does the MSR, used as a foreign policy, aid China’s rise as a global power? In conclusion, China used numerous un-economical projects to debt trap Sri Lanka to achieve a footprint in the Indian Ocean, with the lease of Hambantota port. This move secures Chinese trade in the region of its rival, India, and could give China a forward presence advantage in coming conflicts. China pursues a mutual beneficial trade relationship in Myanmar through infrastructure projects in Myanmar’s hinterland. China is using these projects to increase trade efficiency into central China while decreasing its dependence on the Malacca straits for trade. This relationship provides China with energy security, overland access to the Indian Ocean, and a growing export market. For Myanmar, it provides needed infrastructure and technology to expand its economy, which will help solve Myanmar’s social unrest.

GMA 400 - Senior Seminar Research