Showing its naval strength in the Indian Ocean Region, Indian Navy has chased away a suspicious Chinese vessel. The vessel ‘Shi Yan 1,’ possibly a spy vessel, was carrying out suspicious research activities in the Indian waters near Port Blair in Andaman and Nicobar Islands and was detected by maritime surveillance aircraft operating there.
Notably, China has been increasing its presence in the IOR for a long time to gain influence in the strategically crucial region around India. Recently, the Indian Navy’s P-8I maritime surveillance aircraft had also detected a Chinese Navy warship around Indian Ocean region even the Navy Chief Admiral Karambir Singh has stated that the presence of China in Indian Ocean region is increasing and the Indian Navy is “constantly watching it”.
In order to gain some authority china would end up creating a conflict with the Indian navy which could be an impediment for its trade amidst the trade war with the US. Chinese strategy is to encircle India following the ‘String of Pearls’ theory. According to this theory, China is looking to expand its influence in the Indian Ocean Region by raising military or commercial points at strategically located points in order to encircle India and contain Indian influence in the Indian Ocean region.
China seeks military influence over major maritime chokepoints in the Indian Ocean region, including the Malacca strait through which over 25% of world trade passes. India’s Andaman and Nicobar islands provide with extensive waters on which India has exclusive rights as per UN Convention on Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). The Chinese vessel was found lurking in India’s exclusive economic zone near Port Blair.
China has been violating the UNCLOS in the South China Sea, where it refuses to end its adventurism and has resorted to bullying of the smaller nations like Vietnam and the Philippines. However, the Indian government has sent a strong signal that any such adventurism in Indian waters will be met with a heavy hand.
China has enormous strategic interest in the IOR but the might and strength of the Indian navy is the sole cause of concern for it, as no other country as strong as India is situated in the region. India is no longer a mere spectator, the country is now going to make use of the advantage it has through the Andaman and Nicobar islands where the only joint theatre command of the Indian Army, Navy and the Air Force is based. Building up military infrastructure in the region is the first step towards strengthening India’s presence in the region. The fact that the Andaman and Nicobar Command has all the assets and manpower of the three defence forces under one operational commander goes on to show how India is going to build up an efficient and lethal defence ecosystem in the region against China, which is trying to gain influence through Sri Lanka and Maldives. India’s military capacities in IOR put a hard restraint on China and it is difficult for it in the near future to break this monopoly.
China, on the other hand, is bound to show naval muscle in the region as a large number of its trade vessel passes through the Indian Ocean, however it cannot reject the Indian influence and support in the region any time soon. India and the Indian navy are strong enough to give befitting answer to any kind of Chinese mischief in the Indian Ocean.