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How India can counter China in Bay of Bengal?

How India can counter China in Bay of Bengal?

Relevance:

  • GS 2 || International Relation || International Organizations || BIMSTEC

Why in news?

India can counter China in Bay of Bengal

Importance of Bay of Bengal:

Role of China in Bay of Bengal:

  • Military influence: China is gaining political, economic, and military influence in the region by building marine links with Bay littoral countries including India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Myanmar, as well as funding infrastructure development.
  • The development of the Hambantota port in Sri Lanka and the Myanmar Oil and Gas Pipeline, which extends from Kyaukpyu in Myanmar to Yunnan province in China, are two examples.
  • Strait of Malacca: The Strait of Malacca, which connects the Pacific and Indian Oceans and is a vital maritime corridor for the world, is one of China’s key strategic concerns in the Bay. Its importance was underscored when former Chinese President Hu Jintao spoke of the “Malacca Dilemma,” referring to the fact that the regular flow of oil through sea routes to China was dependent on the small Strait of Malacca remaining open and navigable.
  • With this in mind, China has embarked on a two-pronged strategy: develop an alternative energy route to reduce reliance on the Malacca Strait, and establish holdings at various points throughout the Indian Ocean to ensure that its needs are met by reviving the concept of the 21st century Maritime Silk Route.
  • ‘Act East’ policy: China’s actions in the Bay have had a significant impact on India’s interest in the Bay and its relations with the United States and other Indo-Pacific countries. At the moment, China is particularly concerned about India’s strategic objectives in relation to these increasing ties, as well as the consequences of its ‘Act East’ policy in Southeast Asia.

India approach in Bay of Bangle:

  • The BoB has grown in importance in India’s geopolitical calculations. India’s interests in the Bay of Bengal can be regarded in two ways:
  • First, it sees the bay as a sea-bridge to the East, through which it can achieve greater political, economic, and strategic cooperation with its neighbours and the Asia-Pacific region.
  • Second, given China’s growing presence in the BoB, it is in India’s best interests to maintain a stable, rules-based maritime order in the region to ensure the movement of commerce along critical sea routes and the Indian Navy’s freedom of navigation.
  • BIMSTEC: Prime Minister Narendra Modi proclaimed the BIMSTEC a “natural platform to implement our core foreign policy priorities of ‘Neighborhood First’ and ‘Act East'” in June 2017.
  • To enable deeper economic relations, India must prioritise BIMSTEC by regularising meetings and expediting the signing of the BIMSTEC-Free Trade Agreement (FTA).
  • Kaladan Multi-Modal Project: In addition, India must improve regional connectivity and infrastructure opportunities by ensuring that projects such as the Kaladan Multi-Modal Project and the India-Myanmar-Thailand Highway are finished on time.
  • ‘Project Mausam: At the same time, India must decide whether it wants to pursue the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar (BCIM) economic corridor with China in the region. In addition, India must propose new projects, such as ‘Project Mausam,’ to connect the states surrounding the BoB.
  • Sea Line of Communication (SLOC): To satisfy its expanding energy demands, India has an interest in preserving the Sea Line of Communication (SLOC) in the BoB from maritime terrorism, piracy, and natural calamities. As a result, India is attempting to solidify its position as a regional netsecurity provider through events such as the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS), which provides a forum for “discussion of regionally relevant maritime issues,” and ‘Exercise MILAN,’ a biennial naval exercise in which many of the BoB’s littoral states participate.
  • Climate change and natural disasters: Given the enormous risks of climate change and natural disasters that the littoral states in the BoB face, India may show leadership, address a common issue, and strengthen inter-regional cooperation by launching a climate security agreement through BIMSTEC.

  • The ongoing dynamics of the BoB will have a long-term impact on the Indo-Pacific scene. As a result, connectivity projects must be viewed as critical tools in the transformation of this fragmented maritime environment into a more linked and economically dynamic region.
  • The region’s existing vulnerabilities, such as weak domestic institutions and a lack of infrastructure, must be addressed. Most critically, the Bay Area will need to establish a culture of regional collaboration..
  • However, in doing so two important considerations must be kept in mind:
  • To begin with, the BoB requires a stable security system because it is forming against the backdrop of major power conflict. As a result, the new bilateral and multilateral security alliances being formed to respond to shifting security contexts are critical.
  • Second, and contrary to popular belief, one must look beyond US-China ties, because the region’s future will be defined not by US-China relations, but by how robust the region’s countries are both domestically and externally. Human resource development and institutional transformation must consequently be included in connectivity programmes.

Mains oriented question:

What is the strategic importance of bay of Bangle for India, what are the concern associated with Bay of Bangle? (200 words)