Politics & International Studies

Malabar 2021 and Beyond: India’s Naval Pushback Against China

Credit- ORF

Maritime diplomacy is the key to India’s more muscular China strategy


Sreeram Chaulia, Professor & Dean, Jindal School of International Affairs.


Even though India’s ongoing border conflict with China is land-based, the competition between Asia’s two incompatible giants is playing out with increasing intensity in the oceans. Sino-Indian rivalry has multiple turfs and terrains, but it is the maritime jostling that is the most consequential, not only for the balance of power in Asia but for the entire world.

Maritime competition between China and India has shades of inevitability and destiny because of the fundamentally unique nature of the high seas, which make up two-thirds of the planet’s oceans and are not part of the territorial waters of any single state. Unlike on land, where nation-states have carved up every little inch of space as sovereign territory and forcibly redrawing borders is taboo, the high seas are neutral and their command and control depend on the assertion and deployment of naval might. For any aspiring power to climb up the ladder, its main opportunity to expand lies in the high seas rather than on land-based conquest of territory that belongs to or is claimed by another state.

Published in: The Diplomat

To read the full article, please click here