India’s supremacy in Indian Ocean challenged by China

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Enjoy your read!! INTRODUCTION


The world is witnessing a platonic shift in the international policies and strategies of China. Its regional ambitions and its burning desire to become the real ‘Super Power’ controlling the global economy, surpassing United States, is no more a secret. Xi Jinping, at the helm of affairs, as the President and Supreme Commander of Red Army, of China had been steering the country towards this goal ever since he had come to power. Now the picture is more clear. He had asserted himself as the unquestioned leader of Communist China, vanquishing all his political opponents. The all powerful Communist Party Congress have amended the Constitution of China to clear the deck for Xi Jinping to assume life time Presidency of China, uplifting his political status to the level of ‘Mao Zedong ’, the father of “People’s Revolution” in China. Xi Jinping has already sketched a road map, that China need to follow, to take the country towards the pinnacle of glory. With unlimited power, Red Army( largest Army in the World) and a strong economy to back, Xi Jinping is in a position to realise his dream in his life time. The world is witnessing a platonic shift in the international policies and strategies of China. Its regional ambitions and its burning desire to become the real ‘Super Power’ controlling the global economy, surpassing United States, is no more a secret. Xi Jinping, at the helm of affairs, as the President and Supreme Commander of Red Army, of China had been steering the country towards this goal ever since he had come to power. Now the picture is more clear. He had asserted himself as the unquestioned leader of Communist China, vanquishing all his political opponents. The all powerful Communist Party Congress have amended the Constitution of China to clear the deck for Xi Jinping to assume life time Presidency of China, uplifting his political status to the level of ‘Mao Zedong ’, the father of “People’s Revolution” in China. Xi Jinping has already sketched a road map, that China need to follow, to take the country towards the pinnacle of glory. With unlimited power, Red Army( largest Army in the World) and a strong economy to back, Xi Jinping is in a position to realise his dream in his life time.

Chinese Tsunami in India Ocean

Chinese strategic moves in the Indian Ocean, are going to wreck the Indian shores first. Till date, India had managed to checkmate China in a Power game and had retained our significance and supremacy in the Asian Continent. But a resurgent China under the leadership of Xi Jinping, is bound to tilt the power balance of the region unfavourable to India China has resolved to prove to the world that Indian Ocean is not India’s Ocean. A strong indication is already in display for the world to see. In Maldives, President Abdulla Yameen’s regime has – since the illegal ouster of Nasheed in a coup in 2012- systematically sought to reduce political and economic engagement with India even as it has invited Chinese presence which has rapidly expanded. It began with the cancellation of the Male airport project in 2013, contracted to the Indian firm GMR, to be subsequently given to a Chinese firm. Maldivian property laws were amended in July 2015, to allow foreign ownership of land, provided the investment was at least $1 Billion and 70% was land reclaimed from sea. The amendment was clearly meant for China’s indulgence in Maldives. With China’s expertise and experience in large- scale island building through reclaimed land in the South China Sea, China moved in fast. In November 2017, Yameen signed a Free Trade Treaty with China. Now Chinese Saudi investors are developing the ambitious iHavan project on the northern island of Havandhippolu, not far from India. It will boast of a modern port, an airport, a cruise hub, a marina and a dockyard. And China intends to build another port on the southern atoll of Laamu with the eventual aim of turning it into a high- end resort for Chinese tourists, who now constitute the largest number of visitors to the country. It’s a remarkable progress of diplomatic connection between both nations since China opened its Mission in Male only in 2011. China has slowly shown its intention to maintain a naval presence in this part of the Indian Ocean by undertaking a highly visible exercise involving three warships around Male in Aug 2017. The message is loud and clear for India. President Yameen is the medium, along with President Mahindra Rajapaksa of Sri Lanka , through which China proclaims its arrival in the back-yard of India. You may recall, in Sri Lanka President Rajapaksa had put the country in hock to China in developing the unviable Hambantota port in the southern part of the country. Though China wants to window dress these huge investments in Sri Lanka and Maldives as purely commercial ventures, the real intention is the naval supremacy of Indian Ocean and route clearance for Xi’s ambitious pet project ‘Belt and Road Initiative’. The cost of these mega projects are much beyond the paying capacity of these island nations paving way for a debt trap.

China can foresee this advantage and use this handle for its geopolitical motives in the future. A Chinese Navy Journal spelt out the country’s Indian Ocean strategy in the form of a 16-character guide line: “Select locations meticulously, make deployments discreetly, give priority to cooperative activities and penetrate gradually.”Chinese activities in Indian Ocean faithfully follow this formula laying out starkly what India is up against when it comes to its maritime strategy. Chinese influence in Seychelles and Mauritius also is part of this maritime strategy.

Concerns of India

With a hind- sight, in 2012, India might have taken a wrong call, in not responding to Nasheed’s appeal for intervention when he was being forced to resign under duress, paving the way for Yameen’s capture of state power. Till date India maintained maritime supremacy in the Indian Ocean connecting with Japan and western world. But China, by establishing a chain of naval bases around the Indian peninsula undermines India’s naval power and suggests a Chinese flanking strategy. India urgently needs to review our foreign policy and reallocate our resources from less critical theatres to the immediate sub- continental periphery, to reverse the erosion in our overall profile. The second diplomatic strategy we may consider is – the Chinese inroads into the Indian Ocean threaten not only Indian interests, but also those of other major powers such as US, Japan and Australia. The American base at Diego Garcia will be affected, as will the Japanese commitment to the Indo- Pacific, which the Australians have also bought into. These are all, the revitalised members of the somewhat hesitant “Quadrilateral Club”. There is a great urgency to connect more strongly with these nations for India, to protect our strategic interests in Indian Ocean.

CONCLUSION

In the long run India has to remain pro- active in the region to checkmate the growing influence and strength of the Red Dragon. As a corrective measure, the present defence budget of 17% share to Indian Navy should be increased to minimum 30% by 2030. This will be vital for India, to maintain the maritime edge we enjoy in the Indian Ocean which is being rapidly eroded by China.

JAI HIND