The overland communications between Asia and Europe were of crucial importance to the economic and military survival of the East India companies. This applies equally to the English, French and Dutch East India companies - and even to the Portuguese empire.
At some of the most crucial moments of its history, the very survival of the Dutch East India Company (Verenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie or VOC) depended on the thin thread connecting it overland to Europe. One of these crises occurred in the mid-seventeenth century when during the first Anglo-Dutch war, English fleets challenged Dutch naval supremacy in the Indian Ocean. Reflecting on the defeat of the British fleets and the near eradication of the English East India Company or EIC's naval presence there in 1654, the Dutch director of Surat commented: ‘We would never have gained such an easy victory if the English had reacted more promptly or had we not received warnings so promptly [tijdig].’ Similarly, the catastrophic defeat suffered at a later date by the French admiral De la Haye is normally attributed to De la Haye's hesitations. Yet is is doubtful whether the VOC would have been able ot assemble a fleet quickly enough to destroy De la Haye's fleet had the VOC not received messages overland.