[Ed. – Lawrence Sellin is right that this is about more than “domestic security” for China. It’s about all the things he mentions — but the new urgency of it for China has come from the progress Russia made, in Obama’s final year, in establishing the potential for access to the Indian Ocean through Iran. Russia has wanted such access for 300 years or more, and could never get close to it until Obama had been president of the U.S. long enough to undo key elements of our security posture. If Russia can complete a circle around China by going through South Asia, China basically has to fortify an outpost there. Of course, all of these points are now pending the outcome of the eruption in Iran.]
In the last few months, there have been persistent reports of Chinese survey teams in the areas west of Gwadar, a seaport considered critical to the success of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the linchpin to China’s Belt and Road Initiative, an effort to achieve Chinese commercial dominance in South Asia and as a connection to its strategic interests in the Middle East and Africa.
In the last two weeks, meetings held between high-ranking Chinese and Pakistani military officers indicate that a new Chinese military facility will be built on the Jiwani peninsula between Gwadar and the Iranian border. The plan is said to include a naval base and an expansion of the already-existing airport on the peninsula, both requiring the establishment of a security zone and the forced relocation of long-time Balochi residents.