According to the latest developments, the China vs India rivalry has gone beyond just the Line of Actual Control LAC. That’s because reports claim that the Chinese military footprint is gradually increasing in the Indian Ocean. With this claim, the Indian troops now have more to worry about apart from the Line of Actual Control.
China vs India: Satellite Images Show Chinese Military Presence In The Indian Ocean
According to some satellite pictures captured in May, the Chinese military base facility, set up in 2017 in Djibouti as a logistic unit, will modernize into a completely developed naval base, with a 1,120-feet pier. That’ll be able to accommodate Chinese warships, including the Liaoning aircraft carrier.
#China's overseas base in #Djibouti looks to have reached completion on its pier extension project, images show an approximate +320M dual side berthing area for PLAN vessels at the regional strategic hub in the #Gulfofaden https://t.co/kqGGdtAZ3s pic.twitter.com/Pa330hHR8Q
— d-atis☠️ (@detresfa_) January 14, 2020
While there are other rumors that China has plans to militarise the Gwadar port in Pakistan.
Reports point out that it’s the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy in Djibouti that clearly demonstrates the ambitions of China’s Indian Ocean.
So far, the estimated area of the Chinese compound in Djibouti is 250,000 square feet. That suggests to many that it’s not just a military base. Surrounded by outer perimeter walls, the compound has watchtowers and underground quarters, which is capable of hosting about 10,000 troops.
Although China emphasizes that the expansion project is a support facility, analysts claim the military base is capable of supporting other missions, including non-combat evacuation operations.
Some years ago, during China’s first deployment of the warship off Somalia’s coast for anti-piracy patrols, some India analysts believed the Chinese PLA Navy’s sudden attacks were a result of its need to protect the country’s energy and trade interests. However, the view is rapidly changing, as many analysts are now seeing the regional expansion by the Chinese as an effort to get Beijing into the geopolitics of the Indian Ocean.
Sadly, India hasn’t shown any sign of responding forcefully, even when recognizing the challenges attached to the Chinese military poses, in the Indian Ocean.
Now, some military experts have suggested that one way to balance the China vs India rivalry and discourage China, is through a sea-denial complex in the Andaman Islands.
China vs India: Can Sea-Denial Work As Suggested?
According to reports, the Indian Navy has started developing the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. That’s in an effort to turn the area to a strategic outpost. There, its military troops will be able to monitor the Chinese military Navy’s activity in the Eastern Indian Ocean.
But will this strategy work? Well, according to analysts, it’ll likely not work.
The first reason for that is because the strategy will amount to nothing when the Chinese military Navy deploys to areas outside of the Indian Ocean. Secondly, the most pressing India’s maritime challenge, which is the Pakistan-China nexus, is yet to involve any physical threat on Indian assets.
Since the suggested sea-denial strategy to discourage the Chinese military from increasing its footprint in the Indian Ocean is unlikely to work, what approach can India employ?
According to The Print, India has been advised to make use of distant power projection. What that means is that India should shift the maritime balance in East Asia. By doing that, it could cause the Chinese military to decrease its presence in the Indian Ocean.