For years, China has sought to encircle South Asia with a "string of pearls": a network of ports connecting its eastern coast to the Middle East that would boost its strategic clout and maritime access. Not surprisingly, India and others have regarded this process with serious concern.
Now, however, China is attempting to disguise its strategy, claiming that it wants to create a 21st-century maritime Silk Road to improve trade and cultural exchange. But friendly rhetoric can scarcely allay concern in Asia and beyond that China's strategic goal is to dominate the region.
That concern is well founded. Simply put, the Silk Road initiative is designed to make China the hub of a new order in Asia and the Indian Ocean region.