India and China at Sea: Competition for Naval Dominance in the Indian Ocean.

AuthorJaishankar, Dhruva

India and China at Sea: Competition for Naval Dominance in the Indian Ocean. Edited by David Brewster. New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2018. Hardcover: 256pp.

In 2017, China's People Liberation Army Navy (PLA-N) officially opened its first overseas military facility, a support base in Djibouti. Until fairly recently, Beijing had been insistent that it would not follow the path of the United States and other major powers in asserting its military presence internationally. But in the mid-2000s, concerns began to be raised about a so-called "string of pearls", a series of Chinese-built or -financed port facilities in the Indian Ocean that could potentially be used for both civilian and military purposes. While some of those fears were exaggerated, and remain so, they were not entirely without merit. In addition to Djibouti, the development of port infrastructure in Chinese-controlled enclaves and greater PLA-N activity across the Indian Ocean region have contributed to major security concerns about Beijing's intentions, not least in India's capital New Delhi.

To what degree is China's growing economic and military activity in the Indian Ocean region contributing to military competition with India? And in the event of greater Sino-Indian competition in the Indian Ocean, what are the relative strengths and weaknesses of both rising military powers? In a new edited volume, Australian scholar David Brewster has assembled a stellar cast of experts from India, China and other countries to provide a multi-faceted approach to these two questions.

On the first count, the broad consensus is that competition between China and India in the Indian Ocean is certain to increase. For veteran China expert John Carver, China is an "autistic superpower" (p. 75) that is unable to understand the apprehensions of its neighbours, India and Japan in particular. Similarly, Jingdong Yuan acknowledges that China could do more to assuage India's legitimate security concerns, including by being more transparent about its naval activities. Brewster notes an asymmetry in Indian and Chinese perceptions of each other. This is evident in the two essays in the compilation on China's Maritime Silk Road (MSR), a critical element of its Belt and Road Initiative.

Although Chinese expert Zhu Li offers a conventional Chinese government interpretation of the initiative as economically beneficial and dismisses Indian concerns, Indian scholar Jabin Jacob argues that the MSR is...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT