they have footholds in myanmar's coco islands, in pakistan's gwadar, and have been negotiating to buy an island in the maldives, which was foiled by last-minute scrambling by indians.
now, they have a trump card: the chinese are going to be building india's deepest port, at vizhinjam in trivandrum, where the draft is (i hear different reports) either 56 feet or 72 feet, in either case, very deep, enough to dock the largest container ships, and possibly even tankers.
the vizhinjam port project has continuously been sabotaged by
a) the kochi lobby who moved a rs. 5000 crore container port there, which makes no sense from a strictly maritime angle, but lots of sense from the perspective of graft. it will require massive and continuous dredging, which is good for ongoing corruption. of course, since the christists view kochi as 'their' city -- they dominate the place numerically as well as otherwise -- they want all investment in kerala to be in kochi and kochi alone
b) the tamil lobby represented by the ports minister, the dmk's t r baalu (a big admirer of charlatans like pauil dhinakaran, and possibly a converted christist) which wants to push forward the port of tuticorin on the east coast of tamil nadu. tuticorin has only one natural advantage: there's absolutely nothing in the vicinity, as it is an extremely arid area, so there's plenty of waste land around. the only thing they have there is a bunch of inoperative windmills.
now, the chinese -- deucedly clever of them -- come in as saviors for vizhinjam. timed, of course, for when the marxists win the next election in kerala and come to power. this would be a terrific way to kill two birds with one stone:
1. easy to route chinese money blatantly to the marxists
2. easy to now bring in spies and flood the place with informants. the trivandrum-vizhinjam-nagercoil area, it may be noted, has some sensitive defense and aerospace installations, namely the southern air command, ISRO's vikram sarabhai space center, and the rocket testing center at mahendragiri
now you understand the chinese interest in "building a port" at trivandrum: the opportunity to spy on ISRO. guess what ISRO builds in trivandrum? the PSLV, in other words, the next-generation missiles. guess what else is built in kerala (where the chinese already have a substantial fifth column like they do with the maoists in nepal)? at kochi, india's first aircraft carrier is being built. and what else does kerala have? the radioactive beach sands that contain thorium, the fuel for the fast breeder reactor at kalpakkam.
doesn't all this come together now?
this is a classic dilemma for someone like me.
i would really like the vizhinjam port to take off: it is far closer to the major international shipping lines than kochi (300 nautical miles) and tuticorin (500 nautical miles) are. (and for tuticorin this is after t r baalu has dredged and destroyed rama's bridge, a major hindu artifact, across the palk straits). the only thing lacking in trivandrum is the container terminal and a network of roads and railways. interestingly, it'll be a lot easier to connect vizhinjam to the golden quadrilateral than kochi. vizhinjam is only 60 kilometers away from the north south highway to kanyakumari, and it would not be too hard to build a new spur. kochi-coimbatore to the quadrilateral must be about 200 kilometers. as for rail, well, vizhinjam is accessible both through kerala (via kochi) and through tamil nadu (via nagercoil); and the old meter guage line via kollam across the western ghats to madurai will be gauge-converted by 2007. so there are three railway lines that vizhinjam can make use of.
thus it makes a lot of sense.
on the other hand, to have the chinese build it -- that really sticks in my craw. and the oommen chandys and k m manis have ensured that there are no other bidders, so vizhinjam dies a natural death. which is what the kottayam-kochi christists actually want anyway. there should be no investment in south kerala, because actual hindus live in south kerala.
so what's a poor person to do?
what a moral dilemma!