The Chinese Twin Silk Roads – Can India shake off its lethargy?
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Issue Net Edition | Date : 10 Nov , 2014

Map Courtesy:

If you have to see the future, look at the map of the future. Or better why not draw the map yourself. If you are the most populous, recently turned the largest economy and the emerging new type of superpower – the People’s Republic of China (PRC) – the map will cost you USD 21.1 Trillion. Just for comparison, the economy of Sri Lanka for the year 2013 was around USD 67 Billion. Is China serious about it? (On a side note, this has nothing to do with recent phrase in Indian media and social media “are you serious”).

…if these silk routes have to be successful, China will have to interact with India.

China’s twin roads to Superpower Status

If learning is the key to future, you have to give it to China. Of course, the best way to learn quickly is to copy exactly what the successful people, companies and countries have done in the past. If the manufacturing revival of China is anything to go by, in copying exactly and at massive scales, there is no better player in the world then the PRC. Yet, Chinese revival has a remarkable long term original vision created by Deng Xipong architecture of the new type of superpower by 2050. It was completely focused on internal economic and infrastructure revival till the turn of the century. By 2005, however, the writing was on the wall that China is the greatest “business-country” of the world. Ted Fishman wrote book, “China Inc – The relentless rise of the Next Great Superpower.”

In year 2008 Zakarias’s book Post-American world, China becomes the Challenger to the sole superpower – the USA. He writes, “Americans may admire beauty, but they are truly dazzled by bigness”. China clearly indicates not big but Huge. Recently, Bill Gates twitted a Vaclav Smil statistic about China, “China has consumed more cement in 3 years than US has consumed in 100 years”.

If Chinese relentlessness of the scale, stupendousness and shock are metrics that world has been amused in last three decades or so, what China said in 2013 it will do to the world will leave you astonished completely. China will build the twin silk routes to the west was what was proclaimed in 2013. The map above is the updated plan from the Chinese government mouthpiece.

The map shows the Chinese plan. There are comparisons to the US Marshall Plan after World War II. USA gave close to USD 160 Billion in today’s terms to rebuild Europe after WWII. It was criticized in and out of USA. It was USA’s “save the world with Dollars” plan. Perhaps, the hidden hypothesis in that criticism was the dollars that have been earned by selling steel and materials to Europe for WWII. If the Chinese map above is considered just a castle in the air, have a look at the plan in an earlier map.

China’s Maritime Silk Route without Sri lanka. Image Courtesy: The Diplomat.

What India is doing?

Shashi Tharoor decodes the new “Silk Road” Revival foreign policy of China proclaims, “But the modern Silk Road’s establishment will also mark a step toward reinvigorating the ancient Chinese concept of tianxia, in which the Chinese emperor was considered the divinely appointed ruler of the entire known world.” As I wrote in my earlier column The great fall of China… consequence to India, “The increasingly assertive China is already visible everywhere. However, the Hegemony instrument comes in the form of modern silk road with dual purpose of doling out massively accumulated cash in last two decades of relentless momentum of growth that China has seen and establishing a new world order with China at the pinnacle.”

One phase of this plan may be to keep India engaged in its own struggles and with Pakistan in a regular conflict.

The two pincer movements – the twin silk routes – of China, above and below India look frightening for India on a map. The routes also clearly indicate an avoidance of India. However, if these silk routes have to be successful, China will have to interact with India. Given the investment the Chinese business-country is making in developing their new map, it is given, that China will have made comprehensive plans for India. One phase of this plan may be to keep India engaged in its own struggles and with Pakistan in a regular conflict. However, it is likely that the maritime dimension of increasing number of sea-denial hunter killer and nuclear powered submarine fleet that China is rapidly developing will be the key to keep India pressurized.

India needs a plan and its execution much faster than the Chinese rapid implementation capability visible in updating the map just in 5 months to include SriLanka and Dhaka in its plan.

Can India shake-off the lethargy? A tall order!


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The views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions or policies of the Indian Defence Review.

About the Author

Navneet Bhushan

worked as a Defence Scientist from 1990-2000. He is the founder director of CRAFITTI CONSULTING ( – an Innovation and Intellectual Property Consulting firm focused on co-crafting Innovation in global enterprises. He is the winner of Indira India Innovation award for Entrepreneurship and Innovation Leadership for 2012. He is the principal author of Strategic Decision Making- Applying the Analytic Hierarchy Process published by Springer-Verlag, UK, as part of the Decision Engineering Series. Navneet Blogs at He can be contacted at He is currently working on his next book titled Crafting New Choices.

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2 thoughts on “The Chinese Twin Silk Roads – Can India shake off its lethargy?

  1. Thanks.

    Just a small observation though. It is better to identify and point out “the elephant in the room” instead of being the proverbial pigeon that on seeing the cat closes its eyes in the hope that since it can not be seen it doesn’t exist.

    Absence of evidence should not inferred as evidence of absence.

  2. Do not involve in scare tactics. Chinese have no capability to mount naval armada in Indian Ocean to attack India. A lone sub will always be prowling. India has sent ships to Vietnam. Those ships are not comforting to China.

    Much Of Chinese naval technology is mired in copying somebody else’s technology way to fast. They have had nuclear subs for almost 15 years. None could travel high sees. This new generation has after long time tried to leave the coastal water. They were testing its endurance.

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