China- India contention in the Indian Ocean region (IOR)

China- India contention in the Indian Ocean region (IOR)

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The Indian Ocean is the third largest of the world’s oceanic divisions, with the significant geo-strategic enclosing land on three sides. It contains islands and coastal states, extending from Africa and the Middle East to South Asia, South East Asia, and Australia. There are 48 sovereign states in IOR. Right from the implementation of the Westphalian System, the Western powers have dominated world politics.

China and India and the Future of the Indian Ocean Image © The Radical Outlook

By Samiullah Safi

© RO

For the past two decades, China’s interests in the Indian Ocean have swiftly extended. The Indian Ocean is a midpoint of major geopolitical competition. China’s mounting foothold and influence in the Indian Ocean Region (IRO) has devised the match for power and control between China, India, the U.S., and its close allies. The Indian Ocean sea Line of communications (SLOCs) are imperative for many Asian states because it is both trade and energy corridor, making these state sensitive to any vulnerabilities.  

The Chinese expansion and its presence in the Indian Ocean have augmented Indian concerns. Beijing argues that its activities are commercially motivating and envisioned to safeguard state interests and people abroad better. But it has been observed that Chinese expansion in the Indian Ocean and elsewhere is constant with Xi Jinping’s vision of making maritime power to gain Chinese economic and military dominance in Asia.

The Indian Ocean is the third largest of the world’s oceanic divisions, with the significant geo-strategic enclosing land on three sides. It contains islands and coastal states, extending from Africa and the Middle East to South Asia, South East Asia, and Australia. There are 48 sovereign states in IOR. Right from the implementation of the Westphalian System, the Western powers have dominated world politics. The pacific and Atlantic oceans have always been the center of competition among world power rather than the Indian Ocean. Though the world is now witnessing an excellent power transition from West to East, the increasing significance of energy politics, and more severe nontraditional threats for all these, the IOR plays a vital role for regional and international powers.

China and India are reliant on energy resources transported through the Indian Ocean to boost their economies. India imports 80 percent of its energy resources, particularly oil, from the Middle East. It is estimated that 85 percent of China’s imports energy resources via the Strait of Malacca from the Indian Ocean as China and India have political clashes. It had a border standoff; their economies needed safe economic transport and integration for economic growth. Chinas economic influence in the world and India’s rapid economic growth have intensified the Indian Oceans strategic value. Furthermore, the U.S. shifting its policy from other regions will likely concentrate on East Asia and the Indian Ocean to contain China’s economic and military rise.

Small regional states like Maldives, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, and Seychelles are recipients of both Chinese and Indian assistance and investment, particularly for transport and infrastructure developments. Regional and global powers have profound interests in maintaining the security of the ocean. The United States operates naval support facilities, the U.K. leased territory in the Central Indian Ocean.

Historically Beijing and New Delhi’s ties are fraught due to border disputes. The clashes have occurred overtures by the Chinese Prime minister and Indian Prime minister. The economic rise of China is a severe threat to the Indian dominancy in the region.

The Chinese expansion and its presence in the Indian Ocean have augmented Indian concerns. Beijing argues that its activities are commercially motivating and envisioned to safeguard state interests and people abroad better. But it has been observed that Chinese expansion in the Indian Ocean and elsewhere is constant with Xi Jinping’s vision of making maritime power to gain Chinese economic and military dominance in Asia.

China’s goals were disputed, both sides commenced to ramp up military capabilities in the Indian Ocean. It has deployed a more significant number of naval forces to strengthen its position in the Indian Ocean and counter-piracy. Although, Beijing sells arms, including tanks, frigates, missiles, and radar, to Indian oceans-connected states. In 2015 Xi Jinping has declared to cut 30000 of its army to definitive resources to air and sea capabilities. Because China is desirous to adapts its military to meet its global motivations. It finalized the sale deal with Pakistan in 2015; Beijing has landed the submarines at the Srilanka port of Colombo and Pakistani port of Karachi.

The U.S. utilizes quadrilateral Security Dialogue (QUAD) to deter Chinese influence in the Indian Ocean. The main objective of the Quad is to secure a rules-based global order, freedom of navigation, and a liberal trading system. After QUAD, now AUKUS was formed by three central states.

India is also strengthening its regional maritime presence. It is reinforcing partnerships and expanding capabilities in the Indian Ocean, its core objectives to quest for security. The country spends billions of dollars on its military modernization, particularly naval development, including anti-submarine capabilities. The construction of military bases, new maritime assets, modernized equipment, and fleets all these developments objectives are to push Delhi to grasp the influence in the Indian Ocean and South China sea.

Small regional states like Maldives, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, and Seychelles are recipients of both Chinese and Indian assistance and investment, particularly for transport and infrastructure developments. Regional and global powers have profound interests in maintaining the security of the ocean. The United States operates naval support facilities, the U.K. leased territory in the Central Indian Ocean.

The U.S. utilizes quadrilateral Security Dialogue (QUAD) to deter Chinese influence in the Indian Ocean. The main objective of the Quad is to secure a rules-based global order, freedom of navigation, and a liberal trading system. After QUAD, now AUKUS was formed by three central states. It. It is a trilateral security cooperation between U.K., Australia, and the U.S.; its primary concentration is on cyber capabilities, artificial intelligence, and quantum technologies; these efforts are to contain Chinese influence. The U.S. formed these forums to confine Chinese dominancy in the region, particularly in the Indian Ocean.

China and India have been involved in contention with one another for a long time. Both states discern the importance of cordial ties and integration but are unwilling to give up any strategic ground in the Indian Ocean. In today’s circumstances, China gains the upper hand over India in the continental, economic and military realm. India will likely confront the complexities if she does not constitute a win-win situation in the region because it is a way for relative gains.

The views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect our Editorial Policy


Author

Mr. Samiullah Safi is a Mphil Candidate of the IR Department at the Comsats University, Islamabad.


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The Radical Outlook is an online news web Portal designed for in-depth news analysis from the Eurasian region and beyond. It is Founded by a geopolitical analyst Shahzada Rahim.
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