In 2004, U.S. defense contractor Booz Allen Hamilton coined the term “String of Pearls” to describe China’s strategy in the waters stretching south of the Eurasian continent. While the report, “Energy Futures in Asia,” is not publicly available, those with access have consistently cited one line: ‘China is building strategic relationships along the sea lanes from the Middle East to the South China Sea in ways that suggest defensive and offensive positioning to protect China’s energy interests, but also to serve broad security objectives.’ This description is followed by examples, which include the disputed islands in the South China Sea, as well as a series of strategically significant ports, such as Gwadar in Pakistan and Kyaukpyu in Myanmar and an ambitious canal project in Thailand that, if successful, would provide Chinese vessels an alternative to the Strait of Malacca. This allows China alternatives to sea lane choke points controlled by India and USA. China is surrounded by over 400 US military bases and after Hillary Clinton’s declaration of ‘America’s Pacific Century’ when she was Secretary of State, China responded with the construction of artificial islands in the South China Sea to effectively create stationary aircraft carriers used to claim disputed territory and to protect the maritime silk route.
In the painting the lines depicted like a star map are the ports China has invested into and also depicts an oil tanker route. On the bottom left is the ghost like gunboat of ‘Nemesis’ that was used by Britain to wage war on China to force consumption of Opium under semi-colonial rule that was exploited by other Western powers and Japan whom also invaded. The sacred mountain in the background hovers like an ominous wave.