In the new millennium, China has steadily increased its naval footprint in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR). The PLA Navy (PLAN), utilizing its rapidly growing blue water capability, now routinely patrols the high seas in the IOR. Beijing has also invested heavily in the construction and maintenance of several ports in the IOR. Moreover, Chinese warships and submarines have made port calls in a number of countries in the IOR in recent times. Given its historic enmity and trust deficit with China, the rapidly growing footprint of the PLAN in the IOR has raised New Delhi’s concerns and suspicions. The Indian government has responded by fast-tracking India’s naval modernization and expansion, holding joint naval exercises with the U.S. and other Asian states, and renewing diplomatic and economic engagement in the IOR in order to counter growing Chinese influence. The IOR has therefore become a space of intense Sino-Indian naval competition. In this paper, I address the following questions: What are the key drivers of the PLAN’s growing footprint in the IOR and is this an attempt by Beijing to strategically encircle India? What is India’s perception of the PLAN’s growing footprint in the IOR and what countermeasures have India taken and why? What are the security implications of Sino-Indian naval competition in the IOR and is there a possibility of confrontation or even warfare between the Chinese and Indian navies in the IOR in the foreseeable future?
Discipline/Coordinating Entity: Humanities and Social Sciences