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Increasing presence of China in the Indian Ocean Strategy and Security implications for India. Commodore RS Vasan IN (Retd) Head, Strategy and Security Studies Center for Asia Studies, Chennai. Maritime Challenges. Long Coast line 7516 Kms Far flung Islands on both sides

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Increasing presence of China in the Indian Ocean

Strategy and Security implications for India

Commodore RS Vasan IN (Retd)

Head, Strategy and Security Studies

Center for Asia Studies, Chennai

Maritime Challenges
  • Long Coast line 7516 Kms
  • Far flung Islands on both sides
  • Nine maritime states
  • Heavy sea traffic along the Sea Lines of Communication (SLOCs) around the sub-continent
  • 13 Major and 200 minor ports
  • Unresolved maritime borders with Pakistan and Bangladesh
  • Troubled waters in the South.
  • Asymmetric threats



Extent of EEZ

West Coast

9,73,182 Sq Kms




5,95,217 Sq Kms

Total 2013410 Sq Kms

Security Challenges
  • Illegal immigration
  • Smuggling
  • Poaching
  • Gun running
  • Refugees/Stow aways
  • VNSAs
  • Safety of lives and property
  • Marine Pollution/Oil spills
  • Off shore assets/ Islands/Port security
Security Challenges
  • Increasing maritime and coastal trade
  • SEZ including in port sector, Increased Private participation in maritime sector
  • Off shore oil exploration and protection issues
  • Issues of Governance of sensitive maritime boundaries.
  • Energy Security
  • Terrorism and Piracy (Somalian waters)
  • China Factor??
triggers and trends
Triggers and Trends
  • 70,000 ships would transit the Straits in a few yrs.
  • Over 43% of piracy attacks reported in the Malacca Straits last decade. Another 16% is reported in the Singapore
  • Somalia overtaking Malacca Straits as hot spot for piracy attacks
  • Dead/missing crew has increased threefold since 2002 as per the IMB.
  • The cost due to piracy attacks was estimated to be at 16 billion per annum.
Seeing Red…




asian trade trends
  • China overtook Japan in Feb 2010 as the second largest economy
  • SE Asian economies would grow at comparable rates.
  • China export /import up by 30%+ during 2000-2009.
  • China became top export destination of Singapore 7 yrs ago.
  • Indonesia’s FDI receipts in respect of China 67%.
gulf of aden challenge
Gulf of Aden Challenge
  • Surge in Piracy off Somalia
  • Increasing number of Hijackings at far off distances from coast
  • Each Navy despatching ships to area for protection of merchantmen
  • No resolute action for Coordinated action
  • Origins over land
  • Both China and India despatched naval units and maintain presence
140 Bn USD High estimate

Estimates of Chinese Def Expenditure

90Bn USD low estimate

50Bn USD



2010 Projections

offshore defence strategy
Offshore Defence Strategy
  • “Overall, our military strategy is defensive. We attack only after being attacked. But our operations are offensive.”
  • “Space or time will not limit our counter offensive.”
  • “We will not put boundaries on the limits of our offensives.”
  • “We will wait for the time and conditions that favor our forces when we do initiate offensive operations.”
  • “We will focus on the opposing force’s weaknesses.”
  • “We will use our own forces to eliminate the enemy’s forces”
  • “Offensive operations against the enemy and defensive operations for our own force protection will be conducted simultaneously”
Missile Launch Ranges from China
  • Hit any one, anywhere
  • Super sonic ASCM-YJ62 on Luyang II DDGs, SSN 22 Sun burn on Sovremennyy, SSN27B/Sizzler on Kilo class Submarines
  • By Dec 09 deployed 1050 CSS 6 and 1150 CSS 7(SRBMs)
  • ASBMs based on CSS 5 MRBMs 1500 kms with manoeuvrable warhead
ORBAT: Fleet Disposition

North Sea Fleet

East Sea Fleet

South Sea Fleet


Destroyers:1 Type 052C (Lanzhou class )1 Type 052B (Guangzhou class)2 Sovremenny class1 Type 051B (NATO codename: Luhai class)2 Type 052 (NATO codename: Luhu class)16 Luda class destroyers (some modernised, others mostly old tech)Total: 23

Frigates:4Type 053H2G/Jangwei class10 Type 053H3/Jangwei-II class23 Jianghu-class (I+II+III, most old ships) Total: 37

Sentinels of the Deep PLAN

40 Type 035 Ming class and older Type 033 Romeo class diesel submarines4 Russian-made Kilo class 5 indigenous Type 039 Song class diesel submarines5 Type 091 Han class nuclear attack submarine (SSN)1 Type 092 Xia class nuclear missile submarine (SSBN)

Total: 54 subs

Potent force in the making
  • Type 093, SSN, new nuclear powered attack submarine
  • Type 094, SSBN, new nuclear powered ballistic missile submarine
  • Type 039, Song class SSK, ddvanced diesel electric attack submarine
  • Proj 636, Yuanzheng SSK, imported advanced Russian Kilo diesel electric attack submarine
  • Yuan Class SSK, new advanced diesel electric attack submarine with Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) Capabilities
all eyes on varyag
All eyes on Varyag
  • Could also start commencing indigenous aircraft carrier programme by end of this year (2010)
  • Plans to train 50 pilots including from Varyag in a four year programme
blue water navy in the making
Blue water navy in the making?
  • Bases in China, Dependency ports in IOR,ASBMs, Modernisation
  • OTH targeting capabilitiy with Sky Wave and Surface Wave OTH Radars
  • Satellites for long range surveillance for precision attacks with ASBMs
  • ‘Informatisation’ for Integrated Joint Ops (Concept in 2004)
  • Up to five new SSBNs JIN 094 class and 095 advanced SSNs, 13 Song class Diesel electric submarines(YJ 82 ASCM) follow on is Yuan class(AIP)- 15 more planned in addition to four existing – All likely to be capable of launching CH-SS_NX13 ASCM on acceptance
  • Surface combatants with long range HHQ9 LRSAMs on LUYANG(052 C) and SA-N-20 LRSAM (Russian) on LUzhou( 051 C), 6 Jiangkai II(054A) FFG with medium range HHQ-16 VLSAMs
  • Houbei Type 0222 missile patorl boats for local defence carrying up to eight YJ83 ASCMs
  • Development of AEW&C based on KJ-200 and KJ 2000(IL76)
  • Cyber space initiatives-
concept of ops conops india
Concept of ops (CONOPS) India
  • CBG
  • Both Sea Control and Denial forces
  • LND
  • Amphibious forces
  • Layered defence using marine police wing, Coast Guard and the Navy
  • Integrated Coastal defence network
Concept of Operations (CONOPS)
  • Shore based and integral aviation for surveillance
  • Satellite
  • Joint Ops
Indian Navy

Surface: Total 36

1 Carrier3 type 155 Rajput (with Brahmos capability)

3 Type 163 Talwars3 Type 16A3 Type 253 Type 25A13 Veer

Submarines :Total 14

10 kilos (upgraded with klub N) can strike surface4 HDW 209


Submarines: Total 17

2 Vela (Foxtrot) Class 4 Shishumer Class(HDW)

10 (Kilo) Sindhogush

1 Akula Class on lease

Air craft carriersViraat



maritime capability perspective plan
Maritime Capability Perspective Plan
  • 11th through 13th plan aimed at balanced growth in ship building, submarine construction and aviation development
  • About 20 percent of def budget expected for Navy (capital to revenue about 60:40)
  • Six Scorpene at MDL first delivery 2012 last in 2017?
  • Mod Plans include induction of major surface combatants, surveillance platforms ,ASW/ASV platforms, multi role helicopters, space based surveillance and satellite communications, NCW
maritime capability perspective plan41
Maritime Capability Perspective Plan
  • U/C Aircraft Carrier, 2 HDW submarines, and six Scorpene. Total 32 ships and subs u/c
  • Building of ships by non PSUs due to heavy orders
  • 15 yrs indigenous plan
  • R&D both by DRDO and Indian Industries
  • Opportunities for Marine Eng Equipment and Technologies exist for Indian Industry
  • Vikramaditya by 2012?
Force structuring two CBG, LND forces, well defined submarine force, shore based LRMR, ASW,ASV, integral helicopters
  • Translates to a force consisting of three aircraft carriers,35 frigates/destroyers, four supprt ships, about 100 LND units, about 20 subs, amphibious ships
  • 2 carriers by 2014 and the third to join by 2019?
  • Seven frigates and four Destroyers approved to be built by DPSUs by 2021 @ Rs 45,000 crores
  • Present level is of 130 ships plans to get it up to 160
china s ior ambitions
China’s IOR Ambitions
  • Energy/SLOC protection
  • “Warm water Ports” referred to also as dependency ports in IOR for future (Gwadar, Hambanthota, Myanmar)
  • Containment of India
  • Protection of own ships from Piracy-Somalia/Gulf of Aden
  • Enablement of operation Carrier Task Force
economic developments
Economic Developments
  • Post war - Hong Kong-based conglomerate Huichen Investment Holdings Ltd. investing $28 million to develop SEZ located in Mirigama, 55 km (34 miles) from Colombo port and 40 km from the international airport.
  • Hambantota Port Development Project (worth US$1 billion)
  • Norochcholai Coal Power Plant Project (worth US$855 million)
  • Colombo-Katunayake Expressway (worth US$248.2 million)
  • 2006 to 2008, Chinese aid to Sri Lanka grew fivefold, replacing Japan as Sri Lanka ’s largest donor.
  • Interest free loans, subsidised loans
..Over land..

Colombo Kattunayake Highway and many investments in projects and infrastructure

  • Three times the size of Colombo
  • Service and Industrial Port
  • 12 berths bunkering and refueling
  • LNG refinery
  • Aviation fuel storage
  • Dry docks
  • 6000 direct and 50,000 indirect job creation
Artist’s view of Hambanthota

‘Over 200 ships sail this route [daily]

and we want to attract them… Our vision is to consolidate the position of Sri Lanka as thepremier maritime logistic centre of the Asian region.’

Dr. Priyath Bandu Wickrama Chairman

Sri Lanka Port Authority

From the Air……

Shape of things to come

Some figures about the airport coming up near HambanthotaUS$210mn
  • Extent of land: 2,000 hectares in total.
  • Initial construction covers an extent of 800 hectares.
  • Aerodrome design: Designed to meet the ICAO specification for code 4F.
  • Runway Length: 3,500 metres in length with a width of 75 metres.Taxiways: 60 metre long taxiway from the runway centre line to the edge of the apron.
  • Apron: 10 parking positions initially with the total being 80.Air Field Capacity: Annual Service Volume of the aerodrome at short and medium/long term planning horizons will be 30,000 and 60,000 movements respectively.
  • Terminal and related buildings: Proposed 10,000 square metres to accommodate 800 peak hours and 100 domestic passengers both ways


what it portends for future
What it portends for future
  • Direct flights from China
  • Strategic Air Lift Capability
  • Support to PLA Navy on IOR missions
  • Economic Development
  • Air and Sea bridge to IOR (Port +Air port)
  • Dual Use in future
  • Hambanthota bids for hosting 2018 CWG
factoring sri lanka in china s equations
Factoring Sri Lanka in China’s equations
  • With the geo strategic importance of Sri Lanka it would assume greater importance for global players post LTTE defeat
  • Many developments and investments in ports/Airports/transport sector particularly by China increases China’s leverage
  • Chinese overtures in the neighbourhood is discomforting to India
  • What is today an economic investment of huge proportions is expected to pay dividends for investors particularly China in increasing its IOR ambitions and also provides leverages for future use both for commercial and military use
india s maritime posturing of concern to china
India’s Maritime Posturing of concern to China

Cooperative arrangements with maritime forces of Japan,Vietnam,US,UK,France,

Australia,Singapore,Thailand etc.,

Maldives security pact

Regional Initiatives- SAARC,ARF, MILAN, Bilateral agreements

Indian Ocean Region Symposium

Launch of INS Arihant –ATV

Modernisation of India’s maritime assets

Infrastructure improvements

invitation for engagement intervention areas of concern india
Invitation for engagement/interventionAreas of concern: India
  • Strategic Location
  • Regional power dynamics
  • Economic opportunity
  • Technological prowess
  • Democracy
  • Countervailing force to China’s adventures in the area
  • Historical baggage
  • Nuclear power
extra regional powers interests role
Extra regional powers interests/role
  • China –Energy, Spheres of influence (SOP) to counter India's influence
  • France- Strategic presence in IOR, bases in Diego Suareg +Reunion Island
  • Japan- Increased interest in IOR, Greater interaction with the maritime forces of India (CG) for protection of mercantile marine traffic from piracy. Benign support?
  • US- Diego Garcia, Mobile fleets in areas around the world (CTF 150 and 151 ) for preemption and energy security. Global policing
  • UK - Play supporting role for US initiatives while retaining space for its own initiatives,
  • Norway –Peace brokering
  • Russia - Slowly trying to regain lost space
conclusion cont d

China’s remote presence already visible around India

Areas of interest in IOR would continue to be under satellite surveillance and other ISR means

China’s virtual presence felt alreay on many Govt and private internet sites

China’s actual presence due to continuous deployment of its ships in Gulf of Aden and by way of its work force in projects around IOR countries

Land divides and Oceans unite nations.From being a neighbour sharing land borders China is now a maritime neighbour as well connected through narrow Malacca straits


IOR would continue to hold interest for West and the rest including China

The 21st century would witness acute competition between the two Asian neighbours impacting security and safety in IOR

Force level augmentation, modernisation and greater power play inevitable in the region

Conflict for supremacy in IOR and cooperation (anti piracy/counter terrorism) where convenient would continue

India would continue to enjoy the geo strategic advantage in the short term

Cooperative initiatives, collaborative efforts are inescapable for taking on the scourge of piracy and maritime terrorism.

options for india
Options for India
  • Engaging China’s neighbours and those weary of China’s military ambitions -Kautilya’s Arthashastra prescriptions
  • Strengthening and operationalising second strike capability
  • Greater use of space for surveillance Cyber warfare
  • Sustained support for Modernisation
  • Engaging immediate neighbourhood
  • Overcoming vacuum in political leadership
  • Keeping counters in place and all options open
  • Strengthening A&N even more-