China and India’s ‘cold war’ in the Indian Ocean
Indian Ocean is the third largest ocean in the world. It comprises about twenty per cent of the world's surface. Malacca strait and Hormuz strait are the two important straits of the world those are located in Indian Ocean. These straits are very crucial in the world trade because about fifty per cent of world's oil is imported and exported through these two straits. India imports her eighty per cent oil and gas from the Middle Eastern countries. China's eighty-four per cent oil is transported through Indian Ocean. So it is an important conduit to the two global powers.
India and China are the two major emerging superpower of Asian subcontinent in the present time. These two countries are always trying to increase their dominance in the region. Now China is rapidly increasing its naval presence in Indian Ocean region. China gives more attention in Indian Ocean. For this reason, China try to develop its relation with others countries of South-Asian like Maldives, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Pakistan. China already signed trade agreement with Maldives and Sri Lanka and establish sea port in these region. China invests huge amount of money and gives different types of assistance in these region for her own purposes.
China tries to improve her relation with Bangladesh by giving assistance, investing on trade and other development programs. China has now established its naval base in the Indian Ocean. On the other hand, another regional power India has become anxious about Chinese involvement in the Indian Ocean. Now India will try to protect China's involvement in this Ocean by various ways. India is developing her naval bases, allocating more budgets while establishing trade relations with other countries on the Indian Ocean.
China's superpower ambition is bound to have a long term impact on Asian security. It's very difficult to deal with an inscrutable, revisionist and rising superpower next door with whom India had a historical rivalry, and whose brazen inroads into India's traditional sphere of influence leaves embittered. Ironically, its trading relationship is important to the economy. The main areas of conflict are encirclement from every possible side, China-Pakistan networking across the northern front, encircle India, control Indian Ocean, find accessibility to oil resources, and explore Africa, controlling northern Arabian Sea, the danger to chicken neck Siliguri corridor and so on.
China stresses and plays special to the Indian Ocean mainly because of its high reliance on energy and trade in this area. The Strategic passageways through which China imports its oil and conducts foreign trade are mainly concentrated on the Indian Ocean. China's interests focus on the security of the energy passageways in the Indian Ocean. The Indian Ocean represents important oil transportation for China. China has more oil imported than oil produced by itself with nearly 60 per cent of its oil imported. China's oil imported mainly comes from Middle - East area and the Strait of Hormuz and the Strait of Malacca of Indian Ocean plays an important role in this context.
The Indian Ocean is the core area for China to achieve to realize all-round opening up and establishing a landscape of economic cooperation. China is to take the initial to develop the bilateral and multilateral agreement with some countries like Pakistan, Nepal. China signed a Memorandum of Understanding about Cooperation to Conduct Long Term Planning for the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. China and India both are interested about Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar (BCIM) corridor. The strategic initiative of the "Maritime silk Road" mainly involves South China Sea countries and Indian Ocean countries, and it aims to connect Southeast Asia, South Asia, the Middle East, Europe and the Africa.
On the opposite side of China, India always try to establish its dominance in the Indian Ocean because of some interests' -- India seeks to increase its global dominance and influence by getting control over the Indian Ocean -- India's pursuit of economic interests by transverse expansion towards Southeast Asia and beyond. The first stage focuses on trade and investment relation with ASEAN countries and the second stage, the focus will change from pure economic cooperation to stress both economic issues and security issues including working together to safeguard maritime passageway and coordination of anti-terrorist activities.
The most important interest of India is to response the challenges and threats by China's rise and its engagement in the Indian Ocean. Besides seeking control and influence in the Indian Ocean, another main objective of India's Indian Ocean strategy is to prevent the security threat by the rising china from entering into India's backyard. If we want to summarize the whole interests of India in Indian Ocean then we can see that India want to protect china's rising as well as restrict the intervention of big powers beyond the region in affairs of the Indian Ocean region, and finally achieve the strategic objectives of becoming a major power in the South Asia and a strong power in the region of Indian Ocean.
From this perspective, we can say, India and china have common interests and mutual needs in Indian Ocean strategies. The mutual needs in the overlapping area are sandwiched between India's "Look East" strategy and China's "West Development" strategy. China and India exists with mutual needs in addressing non-conventional security challenges in the Indian Ocean. China should promote cooperation models that can be generalized based on pilot projects and key projects so as to integrate regional cooperation advantages stage by stage and tier to tier, deepen economic and trade cooperation between India and China, Southeast Asia, South Asia, West Asia, the Middle East, Asia and the Africa and promote dispersive cooperation to be more mechanism based and promote the development to be more open.
This is also the actual needs of China and India's joint effort to push forward the economic integration process in Asia, and to achieve the rising of Asia. So it's a time for both two Asian superpower country, India and China to build a cooperative relation between them for their own benefits as well as Asian subcontinent.
The writer is a student of Department of International Relations, BSMR Science and Technology University, Gopalganj