China’s thirst for geopolitical superiority has been carefully crafted with wicked game plans. Biggest among them is their ‘Debt-trap’ strategy, developed by the ‘wolf-warrior diplomats’ to implement a new version of colonialism: to conquer another land without letting them know that they are being conquered. With their ambitious trillion-dollar project, the ‘Belt Road initiative’ China is slowly intruding into the sovereignty of vulnerable countries like Maldives, Montenegro, Djibouti, Nepal, Sri Lanka and now there is a new addition to the kitty- Paradise Island in Australia.
To contain India in the Indian Ocean Region, China had developed the doctrine of ‘String of Pearls’. They have access to Gwadar port in Pakistan, Chittagong in Bangladesh, Seychelles and so on. The much crucial among them is the Hambantota port at Southern Sri Lanka which along with the surrounding 15,000 acres of land was given to China on a 99-year-old lease owing to a debt crisis.
The Rajapakshes’ during their previous regime routinely received financial aids from the Chinese administration. The proposal to construct the Hambantota port was first rejected by the Indian government due to its financial unfeasibility. But China was quick to sense the massive opportunity it had to tilt Lanka towards their axis from the Indian influence. In the case of a military conflict between India and China, Hambantota can be an added advantage to the latter due to its geographical significance. Chinese funds have reached a point which is beyond Lanka’s repayment capacity.
Australia, which is at loggerheads with China after the Covid-19 scenario is facing a similar challenge back home. Paradise Island, which comes under the Queensland government, is now owned by a Chinese firm by the name ‘China Bloom’. The Island which was initially given by the local government to a private company for a 99-year-old lease is now sold to China Bloom. After this agreement, locals of the Island face restrictions from the Chinese authorities who have made colonies for their workers. They are now deprived of access to the Paradise Island which they had freely visited a few months back.
What exactly China plans to do with Paradise Island is a matter of speculation. Economic aspects of the project currently developed by China Bloom could be used as a cover for its military uses. With QUAD taking shape and Australia joining the Malabar Exercise, China won’t hesitate to use Paradise Island as a potential threat to Australia. China’s diplomatic aggressiveness cannot be ignored due to its records of purchasing-in access to foreign territories. China seems to replicate its ‘debt-trap’ model across all the points on the globe, which they see as potential hubs to expand their influence (read power). It is hence important to observe how long these new-colonisation efforts do last!