21st Century Maritime Silk Road · Belt & Road Initiative · China · Indian Ocean Region · Sri Lanka

China’s Engagement with Maritime Nations: A Case Study

In the recorded history of Sri Lanka and Malaysia, trade with Chinese merchants, transhipment of Chinese goods, embarking of Chinese ships and people were an ordinary occurrence. Malaysia and Sri Lanka were initial subscribers of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), when China launched BRI in 2013. Hence, the problem identified for this research is: why are China’s relations with Sri Lanka and Malaysia through the 21st century Maritime Silk Road being scrutinised by Western powers? Towards this end, objectives of this research are two-fold, i.e. to examine Ancient China’s engagement with maritime nations in the Indian Ocean; and secondly, to compare the ancient relations with that of the relations it maintains with these two states in the 21st Century. As a descriptive study, it utilises the case study methodology, with Malaysia and Sri Lanka selected as the cases. Thematic analysis was employed to analyse the data. Trade and commercial ties remain the backbone of the interactions between China and the two maritime states. In conclusion, it can be ascertained that China’s modern interactions with maritime nations continue to be underpinned by economic interactions, and secondly, that China’s contemporary interactions with Malaysia and Sri Lanka are underscored by geopolitical considerations.

Keywords: Belt and road initiative, Maritime silk road, China, Malaysia, Sri Lanka

The full paper can be accessed here.

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