While the world is grappling with the coronavirus pandemic, China is not leaving any opportunity to take over territories and off late, its aggressiveness can be seen at the East China Sea, South China Sea and the Indian Ocean.
One way to tackle Chinese maritime aggression could be by fully equipping ports and islands in a way to make them strategic outposts which would help monitor the naval activities combining it with an integrated surveillance network which would give all the countries tactical leverage in the various regional seas.
Chinese aggression in the international waters was witnessed this year in several instances. In April, a Vietnamese fishing vessel in the South China Sea was sunk by a Chinese ship, a stand-off between a Chinese survey ship and Malaysian oil exploration ship in Malaysia’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) took place.
In July, Chinese coast guard ships had twice intruded into the Japanese territorial waters and these Chinese ships were once approaching the Japanese fishing boats which were blocked by the Japanese coast guard.
China has also expanded an artificial island in the Maldives which has led to China encroaching upon India’s realm of influence. China has also deployed submarines and intelligence ships in the Indian Ocean.
This could be China’s game of power projection in the Indian Ocean region and yet again, it is the revival of the strategic encirclement earlier done through ‘the string of pearls strategy’ against India. Therefore, Chinese maritime aggression is a rather major cause of concern.
India’s Andaman and Nicobar Islands can be the central point of connecting, monitoring and surveillance for Vietnam’s Cam Ranh Bay and Djibouti.
Vietnam’s Cam Ranh Bay is one of the most equipped ports of all time and it is geostrategically the closest to the South China Sea and has always been the hub of refuelling, repairing vessels and aircraft carriers.
The Cam Ranh Bay is also a vital port in the sea lines of communication and is critical in the maritime passageways and so, it can be used to monitor the Chinese moments. If the U.S. gets the Cam Ranh Bay, then it can upgrade and modernize the Cam Ranh Bay making it the starting point of the maritime chain hub to tackle China.
Vietnam has been one of the most vocal countries in the region against continued Chinese belligerence in South China Sea and India’s strategically located Andaman and Nicobar Islands can be a centre point of this maritime hub to tackle China.
In 2019, India set up an Indian Naval Air Station-INS Kohassa and has been developing the island to its full strength. Also, Japan has also been actively participating as Japan’s NEC Corporation has been installing an undersea cable from Chennai to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
Therefore, some believe that as the Indian Navy is developing these islands, it becomes a vital strategic outpost for India to monitor rival naval activities and has invested to develop an integrated surveillance network and so, the Andaman and Nicobar can be the centre point of connect, monitoring and surveillance for Cam Ranh Bay and Djibouti.
It is important to note here that China already has a support base in Djibouti which is also a military base operated by the Chinese PLAN.
Interestingly, the south part of the Djibouti city are the military bases which are Camp Lemonnier run by the United States Navy, Base Aerienne run by the French Air Force and the Japan Self-Defence Force Base Djibouti and all these three countries bases can be the third and most crucial point of the maritime chain hub to tackle China.
The future of global order lies in who controls the world waterways and so China is watching and expanding in the regional seas. The foreign countries will have to go beyond normal and they must work in unison to tackle Chinese aggressiveness in all parts of regional seas.
It would be rather sensible for all the other countries like the U.S, France, Japan, India and Vietnam to cooperate and coordinate and try to develop and work towards this concept of a strategic Maritime chain hub to tackle China and this could also be discussed as part of the Quad meetings and also invite more countries to join in.