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China Special Report

  • Date Submitted: 09/26/2010 06:03 AM
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Chapter 4:

special report

indian ocean
the Growing struggle For Dominance
The Indian Ocean is rapidly emerging as a zone of ‘great power’ competition, with China and India set to be the main contenders. While this rivalry is unlikely to produce a decisive winner, countries with coasts on the Indian Ocean stand to reap significant geopolitical and economic benefits, as the ‘great powers’ seek to woo China and India. The main risk we forecast is for Sino-Indian rivalry to lead to competing alliances and a rise in tensions in the region, jeopardising global stability. Global geopolitical and economic cycles have traditionally centred on key maritime zones, and the early 21 st century is unlikely to be different. For a long time, the Western world was centred on the Mediterranean Sea. The discovery of the Americas and the subsequent rise of the United States in the 19 th and 20 th centuries made the Atlantic Ocean the world’s most important maritime zone. Thereafter, the rise of Japan, the Asian ‘Tiger’ economies, and later China, led to talk of an ‘Asian century’ or a ‘Pacific century’. More recently, the emergence of India as an economic giant, and the growing integration of the Middle East and Africa with the global economy, have prompted discussion of the increasing geopolitical importance of the Indian Ocean. Indeed, some Chinese and Indian strategists reportedly regard control of these waters as the key to their global power status. In particular, China and India are both seeking to gain a strategic advantage over each other, and the US is expected to ensure that neither Beijing nor New Delhi gains a decisive advantage.

demand for Middle Eastern oil, means the route is now much more important to them than 20 or 30 years ago. Other major Asian economies dependent on this trade route include Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam. Furthermore, three major global maritime choke points (the Bab el-Mandeb Strait at the Gulf of Aden, the Strait of...


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