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`China seeks formidable presence in Indian Ocean`

China and India are into competition for the first time in their histories.

Washington: China is aiming at having a formidable naval presence in the Indian Ocean and is reflected in the country’s construction of ports in the region, an eminent US scholar said on Monday.

"The rise of China as a sea power is one of the biggest development of the last one decade," said Robert Kaplan of the Centre for a New American Security, a Washington-based think tank.

"Why is China rising as a sea power? Because it has the luxury to do so, and it has the luxury to do so because it settled most of its land borders. It`s at the high point of its land ascendancy," he told CNN in an interview.

He said the fact China becoming a sea power across all this area -- and India, too, is rising and becoming a sea power -- brings China and India into competition for the first time in their histories.

If China dominates East Asia, the marginal seas like the South China Sea and the East Sea, that makes it a great regional power.

"But once China has a presence in the Indian Ocean, it becomes a great power," he said.

China is busy building ports in Chittagong in Bangladesh, Hambantota and Sri Lanka and Kyaukpyu in Burma.

"Why are they doing this? To have military bases? No. The Chinese are far more subtle than that," he noted.

"They want throughput, warehouse access for their goods, so that they can at some point have their own sea lines of communication between the hydrocarbon-rich Persian Gulf area and China itself.”

"So, for China to protect its own shipments of energy and its commercial goods between the Middle East and Asia requires a presence, not a domination, on the Indian Ocean," Kaplan said.


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