China 's PLA Navy Aims To Control Indian Ocean

The People’s Liberation Army Navy is preparing for a permanent deployment to the Indian Ocean and plans to use dual-use ports as secret ammunition caches and to support military operations, according to a piece in Washington-based National Interest.
The US magazine said China aims to dominate the Indian Ocean after Beijing deployed amphibious ship the Changbaishan and a nuclear submarine to the region. The country has attempted to establish itself as a maritime player in the Indian Ocean by increasing anti-piracy deployments, naval exercises and investments in maritime infrastructure projects. These activities raised concerns on whether Beijing will adopt more aggressive maritime strategies in the future.

The PLA Navy’s submarines docked at the port of Colombo in Sri Lanka twice last year and China is said to have established military facilities in the country. Beijing also holds a controlling stake in Hambantota port in the southeast of the country. With the shares, Chinese state-owned companies gained the operating rights of the port’s four berths from Sri Lanka, which got an easing of loan conditions in exchange.

Although Beijing has said that these activities are part of their Maritime Silk Road project, there have been concerns that China seeks to reinforce its “string of pearls” strategy that encircles India.

China may also set up dual-use bases in the Indian Ocean with low-level logistical support capability, which would allow Beijing to use a commercial port to support military operations during conflicts or cover up a secret ammunition cache.

Although the PLA denied that it has ever set up such base, the Republic of Seychelles is said to have offered its port for Chinese ships combating pirates in the Gulf of Aden and the West Indian Ocean in 2011.

Beijing would need a “maritime presence” if it wanted to dominate the Indian Ocean. Their presence would challenge the Indian Navy’s role as the region’s major security provider and reduce New Delhi’s influence in the region.


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