Wednesday, September 18, 2019
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Indian Ocean: China At Sea?

Fifth century Chinese strategist Sun Tzu maybe turning in his grave over the PLA Navy’s rising profile in the Indian Ocean since 2008. He may well deem it premature for a number of reasons. The PLA(N) still has to navigate through three choke points—the Malacca, Sunda and Lombok Straits—to get to the Indian Ocean. Barring Pakistan it has no friends in the Indian Ocean Region. For that matter, Pakistan’s value as an ally in the event of any conflict is pretty doubtful. Djibouti port where China has a base is indefensible from any seaward attack. Bagmoyo port in Tanzania and Lamu in Kenya, both of which China is building, are distant from shipping lanes. In a word, China’s sea lines of communication in the Indian Ocean remain overstretched and vulnerable despite the presence of nearly 60 per cent of its deployable fleet.