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Focus: GS-III Internal Security Challenges, GS-I Geography

Why in news?

The Indian Navy has stepped up surveillance and activities in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR), which, it believes, China will “inevitably” try to enter in its quest to become a global power, just as it has laid claim to large portions of the disputed South China Sea.

Details and developments

  • It is to deal with this scenario of China trying to enter IOR that India reached out to neighbours in IOR — Maldives, Mauritius, Seychelles and Madagascar, to prevent China from expanding its footprint in the region by creating more bases — and like-minded navies, such as those of the United States and Japan
  • Chinese are opening multiple routes to the Indian Ocean to overcome the Malacca Dilemma (China’s strategic weakness).

Malacca Dilemma

  • The Malacca Dilemma refers to China’s apprehension of major naval powers controlling the Malacca Strait between Malaysia and Indonesia and interdicting vital supply lines.
  • A significant volume (more than 80%) of China’s oil imports pass through the strait connecting the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea.

The multiple routes that China could be looking at to enter the Indian Ocean are further south of Malacca and include the Sunda, Lombok, Ombai and Wetar straits.

Recently in news:

  • The Indian navy has conducted joint drills with a US Navy carrier strike group, led by USS Nimitz, and Indian and Japanese warships have carried out exercises in the Indian Ocean, against the backdrop of the India-China border standoff in Ladakh.
  • The stage is also set for Australia to be part of the next Malabar naval exercise conducted by India with the US and Japan.
  • From carrying out naval drills with like-minded countries to reaching out to states in the Indian Ocean region, the Indian Navy is focusing on checking China’s rising ambitions in the region and sending out a strong message that Beijing’s power play in South China Sea cannot be replicated in the Indian Ocean.
  • China’s step-by-step inroads into “territorialising” the South China Sea find echoes in some parts of IOR, not by trumped up claims because that would be blatant neo-colonialism but with more sophistication.
  • Indian warships are deployed from as far as the Persian Gulf to the Malacca strait and northern Bay of Bengal to the southeast coast of Africa.

Click Here to read more about India joining Indian Ocean Commission as an observer

Click Here to read more about the U.S. India Naval Exercise

-Source: Hindustan Times

November 2023