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China’s military operates an electronic radar listening post in Gwadar that monitors U.S. naval traffic, which frequently transits the region on the way to the Persian Gulf. In 2003, China and Pakistan struck a deal to build a railway connecting Gwadar and China’s Xinjiang province. About 60 percent of China’s energy imports pass through sea lanes near Gwadar. If and when a Chinese takeover of Gwadar becomes a reality, much of China’s strategic reliance on waters east of Pakistan, a prominent U.S. area of influence, will be greatly reduced.

Some observers have said Gwadar is part of China’s larger strategic goal called the “String of Pearls,” which calls for establishing bases and alliances along sea routes from the oil-rich Middle East to China’s coasts. One prominent Chinese military blogger stated in an Internet post after the announcement that the true meaning of the Chinese military’s projected takeover of Gwadar was that “the landmark that the Chinese navy has been agonizingly waiting for 60 years to reach” was finally within sight.

Miles Yu’s column appears Thursdays. He can be reached at mmilesyu@gmail.com.