India Seeks To Check China’s Advance In The Indian Ocean

MaoNo / Pixabay

Faced with an increasing presence from China in the Indian Ocean, India’s military is at work expanding its presence in the outlying Andaman and Nicobar Islands. These islands are located near the important Strait of Malacca through which China’s ships transit into the Indian Ocean from the east. India is set to expand its naval and air force bases there so to better provide surveillance of Chinese ships before they can even enter the Indian Ocean. While Beijing claims that its presence in the Indian Ocean is not directed at India, New Delhi fears otherwise.

The Islands

Located just north of Indonesia, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands rest between the Bay of Bengal to the west and the Andaman Sea to the east. Great Nicobar Island, the southernmost point of India and of the island chain stands next to the Strait of Malacca, one of the most important shipping lanes in the world. Over 60,000 ships pass through the Malacca Strait every year and it is the energy lifeline for Southeast and East Asian countries. The Strait is also the closest access point from China to the Indian Ocean. For those reasons, the islands location is a significant asset to India in checking Chinese naval power in the region.

India’s Expansion of Military Presence

Port Blair which is the administrative center of the Andaman Islands currently hosts the Andaman and Nicobar Command (ANC) of the Indian Armed Forces. The ANC is the only joint tri-service command in India’s military and comprises forces from the navy, air force, and army. Established in 2001 to allow for joint operations between the three armed services, the ANC saw little development until recently. There were attempts to expand the military presence though no serious inroads were made over the years. Under current Prime Minister Narendra Modi though, there is a concerted effort to expand as Modi seeks to reassert India’s traditional dominance over the Indian Ocean.

At opposite ends of the island chain, India is constructing longer airstrips that will be able to host long-range surveillance aircraft. In the south at Campbell Bay there is INS Baaz, an airbase that was constructed in 2012 overlooking the Malacca Strait. Currently, New Delhi plans to greatly extend the length of the runway there allowing the base to take on bigger planes such as the Boeing P8 surveillance and anti-submarine warfare aircraft. There are plans to in the near future to place multirole Su-30MKI fighter jets at both INS Baaz and at NAS Shibpur which is located on North Andaman Island. These will provide the Indian military with a powerful strike capability that can be used against enemy warships if needed.

Meanwhile the Indian Navy is looking to double the vessels it has in the ANC to 32 by 2022. Already around 14 ships such as patrol boats, fast attack craft (FAC), and amphibious landing ships are based at INS Jarawa in Port Blair though future plans call for larger, more capable warships such as frigates to be based there. To help facilitate the expansion of the base, plans are in place to acquire a new floating dry dock for the base that will supplement the floating dock already in operation there.

China and the Indian Ocean

Ships of China’s Peoples Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) have increasingly been making forays into the Indian Ocean and docking in ports of India’s neighbors. This is causing concern in New Delhi where it is feared that China is attempting to increase its influence and presence in the Indian Ocean where India has been the dominant power. Chinese officials have repeatedly denied any hostile intentions though have also said that Indian should not consider the Indian Ocean as its own backyard. Both countries share somewhat good relations though there are many issues that cause dispute and this is one of them.

Senior Captain Zhao Yi, associate professor of the Institute of Strategy in China’s National Defense University recently said “backyard is not a very appropriate word to use for an open sea and international areas of sea.” This was said in Beijing during an interaction with Indian journalists in response to a question regarding increasing Chinese navy forays into the Indian Ocean. Zhao did admit though that India “has a special role to play in stabilizing the Indian Ocean region” due to geographical considerations. Meanwhile Senior Captain Wei Xiao Dong, chief of staff of the Shanghai Naval Garrison said in response to Indian journalists concerns about PLAN activities in the Indian Ocean, that there is no reason to “show concern or worry”.

For New Delhi, more unsettling than PLAN warships entering the Indian Ocean, is the presence of PLAN submarines. In May, a PLAN Type 041 submarine for the first time docked in Karachi, Pakistan. China immediately downplayed the event saying that PLAN activities in the Indian Ocean such as this routine port visit are “open and transparent” and that they are not directed at any nation. Last September, a PLAN submarine docked in Colombo, Sri Lanka and several weeks later in November another PLAN submarine along with a warship docked in Sri Lanka.

Future

While Beijing paints its intentions for the Indian Ocean as nothing but peaceful, its dialogue is mixed with veiled threats aimed at New Delhi. On one hand China states that its ships are just transiting or taking part in training missions while on the other hand it is quick to claim that the Indian Ocean is not the sole preserve of India. True, the Indian Ocean does not belong to India but India is the dominant power and has every right to be concerned when PLAN warships are visiting the ports of countries India has less than positive relations with.

The expansion of the military bases in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands will provide India with the means to better check incoming PLAN vessels before they can reach the Bay of Bengal and Indian Ocean. In a way the islands can be viewed as the first line of defense India has against China in the Indian Ocean. Furthermore, their location near the Malacca Strait is of vital importance. Over three-quarters of China’s energy imports flow through that Strait. In the event of a conflict between India and China, India has the means to blockade the Strait and in the process, deprive China of oil and gas; one would hope though that such a scenario will not come to pass. Regardless, New Delhi is taking a smart step by expanding its military presence in the islands, one which might cause Beijing to rethink its plans in the Indian Ocean.

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About the Author

Stephen Paul Brooker
Stephen Paul Brooker is a writer, political researcher, and political consultant. His specialty is in East Asia security issues and he has lectured at St. John's University on conflict theory and international relations. He holds a Master's Degree in International Relations and a graduate certificate in International Law and Diplomacy from St. John's University and a Bachelor's Degree in Government from Wagner College. Currently he is pursuing a Diploma in Economics from the University of London.

33 Comments on "India Seeks To Check China’s Advance In The Indian Ocean"

  1. Bla Bla Bla I’m so f tired of reading this argument why dont start the war then lets find our how many dies?

  2. If China and Japan were to combine together and form a more powerful China, then China would have a much easier time taking over any variety of smaller countries. Of course, this may certainly need at least 10 more years, especially to combine military at the same time as technology advancement. Eventually, this more powerful China will become an overwhelming threat to America. This is exactly what happens in my screenplay titled; “The Last President” by Douglas Paige at; driveme89123yahoocom and asking only $1.7 million.

  3. But India is not trustworthy because of its natural paradox in any way it inflicts harm underarm while shaking hand overarm. Modi vision is to change by force all non Hindus to Hindu. No one of its neighbors are spared from its poisonous behavior. But is waiting /see for an opportunity. Example(Bangladesh, Tamil infiltration in S Lanka, Food/baby food blockade in Nepal, the so called military operations in Maldeep on the name of Peace).

  4. believe in china then chinese women has 2 vaginals???????

  5. if you believe what china say,then chinese women has 2 vaginals

  6. china economy is on the way down and china is not afraid to start a war with everyone,to avoid civil war in china,once a chin-suk-cox is alway a chin-suk-cox

  7. Actually no the US did not go to war you are mistaken! Also the US did not have a problem with Russian warships docking in Cuba so that is wrong too…along with everything else you said!
    And Russian Ships had continued to dock in Cuba ever since then. What the US had a problem with was Russia setting up nuclear missiles in Cuba.
    So you have shown that you have an inaccurate view of history!

  8. Stop your BS. US would be equally concerned it its enemy such as Russia or Iran sent its warships and submarines and docked into a port in Mexico or Canada. That is the difference. China has docked its attack submarines in the same manner into ports of India’s neighbors. Remember 1960s when Soviets had warships in Cuba? (Cuba is US’s neighbor) Were you too young or not born then? US went to war and threatened to nuke Cuba. Soviets withdrew. Do you now understand you young punk.

  9. So what? you both (China and US) are wrong, but US could be trusted more than China. Neither is an angel but it is the degree of trust. US could be trusted more than China and this is no secret.

  10. does anybody trust democracy country like US?? Spying on their allies, contain countries, destroy families then leave a huge mess behind. USA means – hypocrisy.

  11. this is how democracy country works like US – hypocrisy.

  12. Does ANYBODY trust China?….a communist country with a hegemonistic mindset and a proliferator of nukes?

  13. hehehehe china will not do that because it knows consequences would be disastrous for it. this is not 1962.

  14. 90% of china needs toilets to. Maybe they will stop taking sh_t in pulbic.

  15. @Satya.Don’t forget that there are 200 M Muslims in India and there is a caste system there.The speed with which Modi is going,cracks will soon appear.He is very unpopular in more civilised and educated North(i.e Brahmin).His first task should be to make toilets for 70% population.

  16. China fooled PM Nehru in 1962 but now it is different time and different Indian generation, PM and party in power.

  17. and for the first time we have a Indian PM… Modiji…

  18. That why they give Pakistan the bomb,its is to use against India…

  19. So by this measure USA should claim the Atlantic and tell Russia they can’t use it…lol

  20. You seems to be a phony angel. Angels only go for love and peace. Anyway, India is not 1960’s India and can repay bombs with bombs.

  21. China will going to bomb India! So better be ready India!

  22. china being communist nation has desire to control world, china is danger to world peace

  23. china think the world is overpopulates,earth resources in the 21 century has run out,therefore, china either kill or control the human races and decide who will get what,of course when china control the world,chineses population get everything,the rest is get kill or be slaves

  24. china is no 1 cause for WW3,china ambition and greed has no limit as their population growth,like cockroach growth to destroy the environment,china are the same

  25. Wise to take china word with pound of salt and dagger in hand for defense.

  26. A just question.

  27. India is natural choice to counter red-yellow devil china from causing harm to world.

  28. On one hand, the US will send its surveillance planes and warships to SCS, without concerning or feeling such actions may provoke China since China is the regional dominant power. On the other hand, they stated India should be concerned when China sent it warships and surveillance planes to India ocean.

  29. China might have scattered some permanent markers in the Indian Ocean already that they will base their claim at anytime before the world will know it. Chinese greed knows no boundary.

  30. HA HA HA, China’s ambition seems insatiable. First it is Southeast Asia, next the Indian Ocean then Europe and the Americas. It is time to stop China’s idiosy!

  31. If China boldly claim South china sea as theirs. why can’t India claim Indian Ocean as theirs also since it bears their name?

  32. What China is doing in Arunachal is well known hhence no one can trust as it is supporting Pak and Terrorists in Pak

  33. India shook hands with China but it does not trust China by watching what China is doing in Vietnam East Sea with Vietnam and Philippines economic zones.

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