Five hundred years before the ‘string of pearls’ or strategic naval bases surfaced as part of China’s global dominance plan, Imperial Portugal was a naval power which tried to impose its hegemony over vast swathes of the Indian Ocean. What informed this grand vision of a 16th-century Portuguese seaborne empire?
Is China actively building up its maritime presence in the Arabian Sea, to dominate vital sea lanes and perhaps encircle India with a chain of naval bases? There can be little doubt that China views Gwadar as a potentially useful asset. China, however, will know better than anyone that Gwadar has two considerable limitations.