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Conference Paper: Assessment of Chinese Maritime Interests in Indian Ocean Region

Updated: Dec 7, 2023

By Commodore Venugopal Vengalil

Image Courtesy: The Wire

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Commodore Venugopal Vengalil, (Retd), was commissioned into the Indian Navy in Jan 1979. He is an alumnus of the National Defence Academy, DSSC Wellington, College of Naval Warfare, Mumbai & Asia Pacific Centre for Security Studies, Honolulu. He is a specialist in Anti-Submarine Warfare and has served afloat and ashore in various appointments during his service spanning thirty years. Post-retirement, he worked as head of Operations & logistics for a private sector shipping company in Oman supporting multinational Navies engaged in counter-piracy operations in the Red Sea & Gulf of Oman. Currently, he is engaged with the CSR initiatives of Tatas in Munnar.


China has significantly expanded its engagements in the Indian ocean region over the past three decades, raising fears and concerns among Indian strategists that its growing naval presence together with its use of debt trap diplomacy might provide it with meaningful military advantages far from its shores. Although China s ultimate aim in the Indian ocean remains ambiguous, it is clear that the Chinese leadership is actively pursuing capabilities that would allow it to undertake a range of military missions in the region.

In this paper, I would cover the basic tenets of China s maritime strategy in general with emphasis on Indian ocean region. The region is particularly important to China as it is vital to their energy security and maritime trade. A brief look at their string of pearls strategy and the inroads they have made to secure a foothold in the region is an important aspect from a commercial and strategic perspective. The potential of using these commercial facilities from a military dimension is an important subject as well. Chinese Navy has grown over the years manifold and whether they have migrated from a brown water to a blue water Navy to undertake and sustain Naval operations away from home is a debatable issue. Aim of this paper would be to examine the various challenges that they face in out of area operations and how they can overcome this hurdle to achieve their strategic / commercial / military objectives.

Read the full Conference paper at this link:

Assessment of Chinese Maritime Interests in Indian Ocean Region
Download PDF • 1.77MB

(Cmde Venugopal Vengalil is a Distinguished Member at C3S.The views expressed by the author do not reflect the views of C3S.)

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