Geopolitics & World-affairs

India's Burgeoning Economic power: China Wishes To Limit India's Influence In The Indian Ocean Region

During the days of the Cold War, India, under the leadership of PM Jawaharlal Nehru propounded the NAM (Non-Alignment) diplomacy for the decolonized world.

He, his Egyptian counterpart, Gamal Abdel Nasser, and his other counterpart, Yugoslavian president, Joseph Broz Tito, established the Non-Alignment Movement (NAM), to keep newly independent countries away from the influence of the US and the Soviet Union. 

Because, after the second world war the world was divided into two by two superpowers, the United States, and the Soviet Union.

They divided the world in half to fight each other, giving birth to the bipolar world, which made the environment just as volatile as it had been at the start of WWII.

India simply wanted to avoid any flock of the necessary evil of the time, but it cost India's strategic interests dearly. By abandoning India's interests, the US made Pakistan its staunch ally in the South Asian region. As a result, India needed a strong partner to counter the imminent two-front enemy assault, China and Pakistan. As a result, India became a strong supporter of the Soviet Union and became dependent on Soviet weapons, because the US was supplying cutting-edge weapons to Pakistan at the time. 

In that volatile geopolitical and economic world, the Chinese were planning to capture India's Aksai Chin region and Arunachal Pradesh, India's north-eastern state, Arunachal Pradesh.

The Chinese never acknowledge the McMahon line as the international border between India and China. China began building roads through Aksai Chin in the 1950s to connect their far western state Xinjiang with Tibet. And they successfully build that road to protect their interest in that region, China invaded India in 1962 through Aksai Chin and Arunachal Pradesh.

When India conceded defeat, the area became part of China, the Chinese were able to capture 38,000 square kilometers of Aksai Chin land. However, when the United States intervened, China unilaterally withdrew from Arunachal Pradesh. 

The loss of Aksai Chin is still haunting India even today. China is a natural aggressor in the world because of its communist authoritarian rule under the regime of the Chinese Communist Party.

Since ancient times China never valued the concept of democracy in their own country and still, they are using the same policy to tame India's influence in the South Asian region and Indian Ocean Region. 

They are attempting to keep Indian troops occupied in the Himalayan region in order to divert India's attention away from the Indian Ocean region, according to the IPS top brass.

This procedure of restraining India has been in place since the 1950s. China maintains border disputes between the two countries solely to limit India's influence in the ocean region. 

As a result, several border skirmishes have occurred since the 1950s. 

After the 1962 Indo-China war, the next event happened in 1967 in Sikkim's Nathu-La and Cho-La regions, when Sikkim was a protectorate state of India. After May 16, 1975, when Sikkim became a part of India after signing the letter of accession with the government of India, the Chinese attacked India and lost badly, losing at least 400 soldiers to India's 75 to 100. 

Another incident occurred during the tenure of Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1987, known colloquially as the Sumdorong Chu standoff, which was resolved when Rajiv Gandhi visited China. 

The Thung La incident is also very concerning because four Indian soldiers were killed by the 40 Chinese border forces, who ambushed innocent soldiers who were clearly unaware of what would happen to them at that time. 

Then, during the current Prime Minister Narendra Modi's tenure, a flurry of events began to occur. The first event was the 2017 Doklam Standoff, in which the Chinese attempted to build a road near Dokla pass within Bhutan's territory in order to jeopardize India's strategically important Chicken Neck pass, which connects India with its north-eastern states. India averted the event peacefully without any loss of life. 

However, in 2020, following Doklam, a bloody Galwan Valley clash killed 20 Indian soldiers and more than 45 Chinese soldiers; the number was never revealed by the Chinese government, but it was unofficially released by independent media outlets in the United States and Europe. 

Even after that bloody clash the Chinse again attempted to transgress into the Indian territory through Arunachal Pradesh's Tawang region. Their attempt has proven to be failed again. 

This is how the Chinese are forcing Indian troops into the Himalayan region. In this way, the Chinese are trying to end India's influence in Indian Ocean Region.

his policy has been in place in China since Mao Zedong's time, but it reached a new high with the arrival of Xi Jinping.

Policy To End India's Influence in IOR 

To blunt India's influence in the South Asian and Indian Ocean regions, China first devised the infamous One Belt One Road plan, which aimed to capture strategically important ports and airports in India's neighboring countries by putting them under the burden of clandestine Chinese loans.

The loans gave these cash-strapped countries huge support for a short period of time but they failed to understand the trap behind it. The Chinese loan came up with hidden clauses and hidden surcharges that were never disclosed to those countries where the money was supposed to be invested. 

They used the same technique in Asia, and they also used it in Africa. Today, many countries' economies are suffering as a result of Chinese loans, and these countries are failing to secure loans from the International Monetary Fund because the IMF is forcing these countries to disclose the terms of the loans, and counties are hesitant to reveal the secret due to Chinese shadow pressure. Chinese banks are also suffering because they are not getting their money back because every country is defaulting.

Under the Belt and Road Initiative or OBOR, China built the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). The Chinese built roads, ports, and power plants, under this project. India protested against this project because the project passes through Pakistan Occupied Jammu and Kashmir, which is part of India. Under CPEC, the Chienese built Gwadar port in Baluchistan. The Belt and Road Initiative was intended to connect China's far east to Europe's far west, but the project has been halted due to financial constraints. 

BRI incorporated China's most ambitious project, the String of Pearls, which aims to encircle India by building ports in neighboring countries. This project includes the Gwadar port. Aside from Gwadar, the Chinese built Hambantota port and the Colombo port city project to completely eliminate India's influence in the island nation of Sri Lanka.

Apart from Sri Lanka, China acquires projects in Maldives, Bangladesh, and Eastern African countries, which share maritime boundaries with the Indian Ocean. After India objected, the Chinese project Kaladan in Myanmar was scrapped because it threatened the strategic importance of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. 

What is India doing to counter Chinese influence in the Indian Ocean region?

India's counter to China's String of Pearls, India came up with the Necklace of Diamonds. Under the Necklace of Diamonds, India built Chabahar Port in Iran to solve India's Pakistan syndrome to reach resource-rich central Asia via Afghanistan. 

India is also building Duqm port in Oman and India is solidifying its relationship with middle-eastern countries. Not only that, India was permitted to use Chittagong port by Bangladesh to reach India's north-eastern states. India is also helping the Maldives by investing $800 million in Hanimaadhoo International Airport Construction Project

The Indian government has also built Coastal Surveillance Radar Network in Seychelles. So, China has not yet isolated India in this region, and the Chinese will simply fail to establish their hegemony in this region despite having a naval port in Djibouti. 

Indian isolation is impossible in this region because India receives assistance from its partners, France and the United States. France has a Reunion island in the southern Indian Ocean, and the United States has a naval base in Diego Garcia that was recently upgraded to accommodate large carriers and destroyers. 

Why China is worried about India's presence in Indian Ocean Region?  

China is worried because China's 60% oil import happens through the Indian Ocean and they export 40% of their domestic products using the Indian Ocean.

China's largest oil exporters are Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates; to enter the Indian Ocean region, China must pass through the Malacca Strait or Sunda Strait, and India's most strategic island, Andaman and Nicobar, is located on the outlet of Malacca and Sunda. 

The Chinese fear that India will block the Malacca Strait whenever it feels like it, during a war or skirmish between them. If this occurs, it will suffocate China's energy supply, and China will eventually fail to protect its interests. 

This is not the only stumbling block in the Indian Ocean; there is also the Bab-el-Mandeb Strait, which connects the Gulf of Aden to the Red Sea. If that strait is closed, China will be forced to travel through the Cape of Good Hope or the rugged terrain of Central Asia to reach Europe. Therefore, the Chinese are really scared of India's blue water influence in Indian Ocean Region and India is upgrading its navy at a lightning speed. 

India was reluctant to counter China militarily before 2014, but, after 2014 everything changed with the arrival of PM Narendra Modi. China is still trying to influence the IOR by inviting 19 IOR countries, from Australia to Southern and Eastern African countries to attend China International Development Cooperation Agency (CIDCA) on November 21 last year. 

The Indian government is collaborating with other major maritime powers to build its ultimate influence in the Indian Ocean Region in order to deter Chinese aggression in both the Indian and Pacific Oceans. This is a decisive step for the Indian government to collaborate with other countries, and it demonstrates India's motto of "Sabka Sath, Sabka Biswas, and Sabka Vikas" (development for himself, development for others).

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