China in the Indian Ocean

Rumsfeld gets an update on China’s naval strategy

Rather unsurprisingly, China has reportedly set up a listening post at Gwadar in Pakistan’s Balochistan province, where it is building a deep-water port. This will enable China to monitor the sea lanes in the Persian Gulf region. It already has a listening post in Myanmar’s Cocos Islands — close to both the busy Straits of Malacca and Indian military establishments in the Andaman Islands. Bangladesh and Cambodia are two other countries that provide China access into the Indian Ocean. While it has not overtly operationalised military bases in any of these countries yet, seen in combination with its submarine-based naval fleet, it is clear that China is working towards developing capability to project power in the Indian Ocean region.

China has valid grounds to take measures to secure its oil supplies that need to pass through the Gulf and the Straits of Malacca, but what facilities it does set up will be necessarily be ‘dual use’ — the framework it has set up will allow China to rapidly extend its military influence in the region.

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