A string of pearls strategy is a strategic move that involves establishing a series of nodes of military and economic power throughout a region. Each node is a “pearl” in the string, enhancing the overall power of the parent nation. This strategic relations move is an excellent way to enfold a greater area of territory, thereby gaining more influence on the global stage, but it often evokes comment from other nations, who may be concerned that the strategy is the first step in a serious takeover or military threat.
Several things are included in a string of pearls strategy. The first is increased access to airfields and ports. This may be accomplished by building new facilities or through establishing cordial relations with other nations to ensure access to their ports. In some cases, the strategy involves heavily subsidizing construction of new port and airfield facilities in other countries, with the understanding that these facilities will be made readily available as needed.
Developing better diplomatic relations is also a crucial step in this strategy. Partly, this is undertaken to ensure that shipping lanes and airspace remain free and clear. It may also be used to soothe concerns about a rapidly expanding string of pearls, and to establish solid trade and export agreements which may ultimately benefit both nations. Since the strategy may rely on linking a series of pearls, it is important to ensure that each pearl is also safe, and that it will not be threatened by neighboring nations.
Modernizing military forces is another component. A modern military can more effectively maintain and hold individual pearls, and it will also be prepared for various actions and exercises on the part of the parent nation. China's string of pearls strategy, for example, includes improvements to the military to indicate that China is ready to meet potential threats. The modernized military also supports a country's rise as a global power, and as a nation which commands respect.
For nations that are slowly encircled in a string of said pearls, the strategy can be upsetting. A country may also slowly take over shipping lanes, which is an issue of concern to nations which are not closely allied with it. China, for example, has growing influence on shipping lanes throughout the Indian ocean, leading some countries to express unease about the safety of oil and supply shipments in the region.