The Indian Ocean plays a pivotal role in facilitating Sea Lanes of Communications (SLOCs) from east to west, making it a strategically significant region.
China has been actively engaging with countries like Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Maldives, and Seychelles, focusing on infrastructure development and diplomatic ties to advance its “Look West Policy.”
These developments have raised concerns and implications for the region, particularly for India. (Source: idsa.in)
Consequences of China’s expanding strength:
China has bolstered its military presence in the Indian Ocean to protect its trade routes, which are crucial for its economic interests.
Chinese expansion in the region has led to the establishment of military bases in Djibouti, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka, often funded through the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
India was not invited to the China-Indian Ocean Region Forum on Development Cooperation, showcasing China’s exclusionary approach.
China aims to conduct training and exercises in the region, seeking partnerships with other militaries.
Chinese trade routes face vulnerabilities, given their proximity to the Indian coast. (Source: csis.org)
Importance of the Indian Ocean Region for India:
The Indian Ocean Region has the potential to become an area of conflict, necessitating India’s preparedness.
Undersea mapping and maritime cooperation, like the Indian Navy-backed ‘Indian Ocean Naval Symposium’ (IONS), are crucial for India to enhance security and counter potential threats.
China’s proposals for cooperation mechanisms in the region pose challenges, making India’s proactive engagement vital to safeguard its interests.
India’s strong influence in the Indian Ocean region through organizations like the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) can be leveraged to foster regional cooperation.
China’s increasing presence in the Indian Ocean region has raised security concerns and heightened regional tensions.
India has responded with initiatives like “Security and Growth for All in the Region” (SAGAR) and the ‘Indian Ocean Naval Symposium’ (IONS) to promote cooperation among littoral countries.
As the region becomes a contested space, India’s proactive approach is crucial to ensuring stability and prosperity for all stakeholders.