China blocks India from entering Indian Ocean | India China Dtandoff at Indian Ocean

New Delhi: Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Karambir Singh’s reference to the presence of Chinese ships in the Indian Ocean over the past decade also points to China’s secret incursions into the sea. Chinese cargo ships and their accompanying Chinese Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) warships pass through the Indian Ocean as part of trade relations with the Gulf, African and European countries. They are all under the close supervision of the Indian Navy.

Although public attempts to encroach on India’s territorial waters are rare, India’s assessment is that China is making covert moves to increase its influence in the maritime region. The territorial jurisdiction of India is about 200 nautical miles off the coast (ECZ).


The Argentine navy removes a Chinese ship that has entered Argentina’s exclusive economic zone. Image of 2020. Handout Photo: ARGENTINA’S NAVY PRESS OFFICE / AFP

Unbelievable neighbor

The Indian defense forces say they cannot trust China in the face of the encroachment on the eastern Ladakh border and the aggression in the Galvan Valley. The conclusion is that China, on the one hand, is trying to seize Indian territory in eastern Ladakh, and on the other, it will not hesitate to make similar moves in the maritime region. China does not have the strength in land and air, but in naval power. India’s dominance in the maritime region due to its geographical location makes it difficult for China to invade.

The Chinese military first made its presence known in the Indian Ocean in 2008 by deploying three warships in the Gulf of Aden off the coast of Somalia as part of a mission to combat piracy. Since then, China has always had a presence in the maritime region. The warship (Type 052D Destroyer), capable of launching 64 missiles simultaneously, arrived in the area in 2019 as part of the Chinese military.

China’s trade route

Chinese ships leaving the South China Sea enter the Indian Ocean via the Straits of Malacca and sail to areas including the Gulf. The strong presence of the Indian Navy in the Indian Ocean has always annoyed China. About 80 percent of China’s fuel imports come from the Gulf countries by sea. A large portion of Chinese products’ exports to Africa and Europe are by sea. Therefore, even the slightest obstacles to the movement of goods through the region will impose a huge economic burden on China.


Photographers near the Chinese Navy Exhibition Hall in Beijing. Photo: WANG ZHAO / AFP

Decisively Malacca

The Strait of Malacca is China’s most anxious area in the maritime region – the gateway to the Indian Ocean from the South China Sea, part of the Pacific Ocean. It is mainly the strait between Malaysia and Indonesia. The total length of the strait, which connects parts of Thailand and Singapore, is 930 km. Minimum width 2.8 km; Maximum 250 km. It is the second busiest strain in the world after Hormuz. An average of 1.20 lakh ships pass through every year.

Who has power in Malacca?

It is the shortest route for Chinese ships to enter the Indian Ocean. India is stronger than China in this area. This is because the Andaman and Nicobar Islands are located near the Straits of Malacca. Here lies the Joint Command of the Indian Army, Navy and Air Force (Andaman and Nicobar Command). Command, which came into existence in 2001, is the only joint military command in the country.


A Chinese ship passing through China, Iran and Russia during a joint naval exercise in the Indian Ocean in 2019. Photo: HO / Iranian Army office / AFP

The Port Blair-based command will be able to quickly deploy troops in the Gulf of Malacca and deploy warplanes in the skies to support warships. Airstrips for warplanes have also been set up as part of the command. The distance from the Andamans to Malacca is 1092 km. China, on the other hand, does not have a similar warm-up system or commando base in the vicinity of Malacca. The Indian Army, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard conducted a joint exercise exercise (Exercise Armor) in the Andamans last January to practice defensive and offensive tactics against enemy forces.

India could also deploy warships along the Malacca Strait to intercept Chinese cargo ships. In such a situation, Chinese ships would have to navigate longer distances, bypassing Malacca. It is estimated that this will cost China about Rs 475 crore a week. Such a huge loss would be a huge setback for China, which wants to grow into a world economic power.

Patrolling in Malacca

Until a few years ago, piracy was rampant in Malacca. In 2019, there were 31 piracies targeting cargo ships. The navies of Malacca are patrolled by the navies of Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and Singapore. India had expressed interest in being part of the patrol in 2018. However, India has been denied a patrol permit under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, which deals with maritime law, stating that only countries bordering the strait have the right to patrol.


‘Malabar Exercise’ joint military exercise conducted by India, Australia, Japan and US in the Arabian Sea. Photo: INDIAN NAVY / AFP

Alternative moves by China

China’s efforts to overcome its geographical shortcomings and increase its influence in the Indian Ocean region include:

Djibouti base China has set up a naval base in Djibouti, an East African country. It is China’s only military base in the Indian Ocean. The mission of the base is to provide the necessary warmth for Chinese ships plying the Indian Ocean. Recently, there were reports that China was developing a base to accommodate the aircraft carrier. Djibouti also has ports in the US, France, Japan and Italy. Saudi Arabia is building the base.

Secret base in Cambodia? – In 2019, it was reported that the Chinese military had entered into a secret agreement to use a naval base in the coastal country of Cambodia. There are indications that China is also building an air base in Cambodia. China, with the help of Cambodia, is making a move aimed at increasing its strength in the Straits of Malacca.


From a military exercise conducted by the US Navy in October 2019 in the South China Sea. Photo: Erwin Jacob V. MICIANO / Navy Office of Information / AFP

Island front – At the southernmost tip of China, on the island of Hainan in the South China Sea, a naval base has been built that can accommodate aircraft carriers. It aims to deploy warplanes rapidly in the Indian Ocean region.

Pak Support – The Chinese-built port in Gwadar, off the coast of Pakistan, is crucial for China. With the completion of the China – Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which connects northwest China’s Xinjiang to the port of Gwadar by road and rail, China will be able to do some business with the Gulf, Africa and Europe, avoiding the headache of the Strait of Malacca. Fuel from the Gulf will be transported to Gwadar and from there to China by land. The goal is to use Gwadar to export Chinese products to Africa and Europe. It remains to be seen whether Pakistan will open the Gwadar port in the future to accommodate Chinese warships in addition to cargo ships. Although there are Chinese-invested ports in Egypt, Malaysia, Singapore and Sri Lanka, China has no authority to use any of them for military purposes.

Moves on Coco Island – China is suspected to be behind the construction of the air base on Coco Island in northern Myanmar in the Andamans. There are indications that China has also set up a ‘Signals Intelligence’ system in Coco to capture information about India’s missile tests in the sea.

Merchant Ships for War – China has found another way to make up for its lack of naval power – and to deploy merchant ships if necessary. Merchant ships were also built to support Chinese warships. Merchant ships also take part in a number of exercises with warships. A law passed in September 2016 authorizing the Chinese military to use civilian vehicles during wartime. The law is called the Law of the People’s Republic of China on National Defense Transportation.

Secret move under the sea – Two Chinese survey ships sailed through Malacca for a few months to conduct research on the Indian Ocean floor. It is suspected that this was a covert mission to explore the possibilities for the Army’s submarines to navigate.

Quad to face China

Will China be able to gain a foothold in the Indian Ocean with such moves? The answer in the current situation is no. In addition to India, the US, Australian and Japanese navies are well equipped in the Indo-Pacific to fight China. In the event of a maritime war, the combined strength of the countries lined up against China will be enormous.

There is a quadrilateral security dialogue between the four countries aimed at maritime security. The Quad team is able to counter provocative moves from the Chinese side from many directions at once. The four forces conducted a joint exercise in the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal in the Indian Ocean last October. The exercise called ‘Malabar Exercise’ was directed by no one else; China itself.

English Summary: China tries to Penetrates Indian Ocean; India aims to strengthen security