Naypyidaw [Myanmar], May 19 (ANI): China is closing in on India to get greater access to the Indian Ocean from ports in Myanmar, said a keen observer of China-Myanmar relations, who underlined that New Delhi should increase its naval capabilities to counter that.
A regional expert, who goes by the pseudonym Yan Naing said the stakes are made even higher by the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor (CMEC), a portion of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
The CMEC, the umbrella for a host of infrastructure projects, runs from Yunnan Province to the Indian Ocean port of Kyaukphyu in western Myanmar. Naing pointed out that CMEC will enable China's navy, the People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN), to encroach on the Bay of Bengal.
"It will also allow China's oil shipments to avoid the Strait of Malacca, which is patrolled by the United States (US) Navy's Seventh Fleet. While the US and India appear to be at odds over Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the two have a shared interest in preventing the PLAN from gaining access to the Indian Ocean," the expert wrote in an opinion piece for The Irrawaddy.
This concern comes in the background of the US Naval Intelligence report released last month which stated that the PLAN will have 67 new major surface ships and 12 new nuclear-powered submarines by 2030.
According to a US report, China is growing its navy so that it can control seas by 2030 and displace the US Navy as the world's most powerful navy by 2049.
Against this backdrop, Naing warned that China's threats to India's maritime domain are increasing and that India should increase its naval capabilities to counter that.
Highlighted the disparity of defence spending of both Navies, Naing stated that India needs to build up its naval power in order to meet the challenge of the PLAN. "The amount China spends on the PLAN is not clear. However, China's total defence spending of USD 252 billion is more than three times the USD 72.9 billion India spends on its military."Pointing to the threat posed by China, the Maynamar expert argued that the US is in a position to coordinate with New Delhi by supporting the development of India's economic, political, and military power.
"Preventing China from gaining control of the Indian Ocean may necessitate the US adopting a new Indian Ocean policy and deepening its involvement with India through the QUAD and other initiatives," he said.
India will have to decide if gaining US support against China is worth abandoning its relationship with Russia for, he added. (ANI)