India must forge deeper ties with ASEAN nations to counter China in Indian Ocean
New Delhi needs to shore up greater support given that the challenge from Beijing is growing increasingly formidable.
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Diplomatic relations with China have always been a thorny issue as far as India's global outreach programmes are concerned, especially in its efforts to reach out to neighbouring countries.
At a time when the US, under the leadership of President Donald Trump, has been hinting at deglobalisation, China is trying to take centre stage with its globalisation plans. To understand how this Chinese stance impacts Indian interests, one must look at Beijing's engagement with neighbouring countries.
It's an open secret that China is Pakistan's all-weather ally. However, of late, Beijing has been offering submarines to countries along the Indian Ocean coastlines at lucrative prices.
Pakistan and China recently announced they will hold joint naval drills in the Indian Ocean regularly. Reports have also surfaced saying China's third domestic aircraft carrier is likely to be deployed in the Indian Ocean.
A Chinese naval formation consisting of the destroyer Changchun in the waters of Indian Ocean.
It is pretty evident that Pakistan has consented to self-destruction by agreeing to be a part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and trying to bypass the US' strategic encirclement policy that has a military base in Diego Garcia in Indian Ocean and includes the South China Sea. With Pakistan getting loans at exorbitantly high interest rates, imperialist loot and plunder is pretty evident.
China has been pretty ruthless in this game of trying to shift the power balance in its own favour. China has invested several billion dollars in building sea lines of communication through Pakistan running far into the Indian Ocean. This is a difficult target to pursue, but that hasn't deterred China from actually going for it.
China was critical of the US moving its destroyer USS Hopper in the South China sea, calling it a violation of its sovereignty, and pledged to take necessary measures to protect the same. Beijing took this stand despite the fact that its ships and submarines keep surfacing near Japanese islands, near Taiwan and in the Indian Ocean.
China's clout is not restricted to Pakistan, it is growing in the entire Asian region. The country's role in fomenting trouble in Maldives is well-known. Exiled Maldivian Opposition leader Mohamed Nasheed termed Chinese property deals in Maldives as "land grab". Chinese influence actually stretches to as far as Australia.
It is being said that Beijing's rising display of might in South Asia is in response to India's outings in Southeast Asia.
It is indeed great that India can work closely with other nations which are joined by the common thread of Chinese aggression in the region. New Delhi can especially draw support from member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
Even though India has been mindful of the Chinese threat, it needs to shore up greater support given that the challenge from Beijing is growing increasingly formidable.