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China accelerates activities to dominate the Indian Ocean: Implications for India

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China's strategic moves in the Indian Ocean have raised concerns as it conducts joint maritime exercises with Pakistan in the northern Arabian Sea, featuring an anti-piracy escort force, including a submarine, a rare addition for anti-piracy operations.


Simultaneously, a Chinese spy ship, Shi-Yan 6, has docked at Colombo port, highlighting frequent arrivals of dual-purpose Chinese ships in Sri Lankan ports.

A Pentagon report from October 19, 2023, emphasizes the People's Liberation Army Navy's (PLAN) growing capabilities, with a numerical strength of over 370 ships and submarines, including modern multi-mission vessels and three aircraft carriers. The report anticipates an increase to 395 ships by 2025 and 435 ships by 2030.

China's maritime strategy incorporates civilian vessels in military-civil fusion, performing tasks challenging for the military, such as dropping anchors for over 280 days in the East Sea/South China Sea to assert territorial claims.


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China's objectives in the Indian Ocean involve securing energy supply routes, trade routes, and increasing maritime influence. The PLAN's three-stage development aims for a blue-water navy with aircraft carriers, aligning with China's expansionist goals and challenging other powers, including India.

China has strategically built bases in the region, with military bases in Djibouti, control over Gwadar and Hambantota, and ongoing projects in Kyaukpyu (Myanmar), Bangladesh, Maldives, and Seychelles.

China's "string of pearls" strategy, manifested in military bases and strategic investments, is extended to create a second string connecting Djibouti, Gwadar, Maldives, and Seychelles. China maintains a presence in the Indian Ocean with submarines, spy ships, and embassies in all six island nations, signaling its comprehensive regional approach. India is urged to counter China's debt-trap diplomacy, influence operations, and power projection in the region while promoting cooperation among nations based on UNCLOS principles.

The Indo-Pacific Economic Framework and Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative are emphasized for tangible benefits, coupled with efforts to counter Chinese spying activities in the region.

Source: The Times of India