China’s “Blue Dragon” strategy leverages national defense and development across four geographic frontiers to overturn Washington’s containment policy and break past strategic obstacles. On the other hand, Washington’s containment policy opposes it. The strategy is principally anchored between two “unsinkable aircraft carriers,” Sri Lanka and Taiwan, and may be defined as the centerpiece of this complete plan.
The approach focuses on three waterways in the Indo-Pacific area and the main river networks in Southeast and South Asia that originate in the Himalayas.
The US has continued its “global spy operations” and strengthened its defensive military posture in the Indo-Pacific despite Washington’s official denial of “containment” of China. After the Sino-Russian “no limits” agreement in February 2022 and the US Air Force fighter aircraft shooting down a suspected Chinese spy balloon in February 2023, the Biden administration recently ended a tense diplomatic lull.
China’s relentless pressure on Taiwan is directly related to President Xi Jinping’s commitment to the “breakaway province’s reunification.” China is equipped with two aircraft carriers, the Liaoning and the Shandong, and a fleet of contemporary ships and planes. According to the Chinese government, “national reunification is the only way to avoid the risk of Taiwan being invaded and occupied by foreign countries again, and to foil the attempts of the US to contain China.”
The ongoing PLA Navy and Airforce drills signal an intensification of Beijing’s “grey zone warfare” in the Senkaku Islands, the Taiwan Strait, and even close to US military installations in Okinawa and Guam.
The Blue Dragon plan of China calls for “normalizing” Beijing’s territorial assertions.
Beijing constructed the militarized artificial islands in the South China Sea (SCS) on its second border. It has asserted its ‘nine-dash line’ in the SCS by claiming a sizable portion of contentious seas and reefs by publishing China’s ‘new standard’ map in August 2023. The new map outraged China’s neighbors, particularly Vietnam, the Philippines, and India.
China’s territorial claims were rejected by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague in 2016, which also criticized Beijing for having “no legal basis” for an “expansive claim to sovereignty over the waters.” At the time, the United States, the Philippines, and the world community believed the historic decision would compel Beijing to reevaluate its claims and respect international law.
The Indian Ocean, India, and Sri Lanka collectively comprise China’s third Blue Dragon border, sometimes known as the “Western Ocean.” Arunachal Pradesh and Aksai Chin are still included in Beijing’s territorial claims. These allegations have been meticulously crafted to deplete India’s military and financial resources and keep it perennially restless rather than find a lasting resolution to the border issue. A strategic connection is observed between China’s “Buddhist diplomacy,” Sri Lanka, the Indian Ocean, and the northern encirclement of India.
Beijing wants to rename the Indian Ocean as the “Western Ocean,” a
term that dates back to ancient Chinese poetry and literature.
Sri Lanka, China’s other “unsinkable aircraft carrier,” serves as a display for the story of China’s “peaceful rise” and is a “crown jewel” of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
Sri Lanka still has a crucial position between China, India, and the US. India paid the required loan of US$3.8 billion after Sri Lanka was declared bankrupt in May 2022 due to its failure to repay its debts, including its foreign loans and other financial commitments. Beijing has pushed a bilateral Sino-Sri Lanka solution and rejected including a global framework to produce a sustainable debt restructuring scheme out of worry.
The “geopolitics of water” in the basins of the Brahmaputra River in India and Bangladesh and the mighty Mekong River in Southeast Asia have ties to Beijing’s fourth frontier. China generates hydroelectric power through a massive network of river dams, the rivers in east, south, and Southeast Asia that originate from their tributaries on the Tibetan Plateau.
Washington’s dilemma: The Cold War-era US containment strategy cannot apply to China, which is becoming more capable and robust. Political and corporate lobbying, technology, and commerce have linked the globe more than during the Cold War. Therefore, separating the world into pro-American and pro-Chinese groups is challenging, especially given how bizarrely US-Sino trade systems are integrated.
Beijing may miscalculate by overestimating its military and economic prowess with its ambitious goals enhanced by “wolf warrior” diplomats due to its rising centralization of power. After all, Moscow fell because of its miscalculations and the flaws in the centralized system.
Some global powers claim they can use their clout to stop China’s territorial expansion in the Indian Ocean through alliances like QUAD, AUKU, etc. China has to exercise caution and defensive mechanisms to survive its objectives in the Indo-Pacific Region. The objectives of both China and the US can be adjusted in a vast biogeographic Indo-Pacific region.