India’s Indian Ocean Challenge

 Indian Premier Narendra Modi with James Alexis Michel, president of Seychelles, during a 2015 visit, and a bridge crossing ocean waters to the Maldives airport, built by China, nears completion

Framed by Africa and Asia, the Indian Ocean is a potential source of global growth, already carrying two thirds of the world’s oil shipments and half the container traffic. China and India increasingly compete in the region, country by country, though local politics and resentments over tourism, trade or labor can derail efforts. India discovered this in the Seychelles after a deal on building a navy base on Assumption Island fell apart. “India’s attempt to gain a foothold in the western Indian Ocean may have suffered a temporary setback, but it won’t be the last of such attempts,” explains Harsh V Pant. “Competition for influence in the Indian Ocean is heating up with China and India both mapping out respective strategies.” China could take a lead with its extensive Belt and Road Initiative, but some partners are increasingly concerned about debt associated with the infrastructure investment. Potential partners leverage their opportunities, and Pant concludes that with a rapidly shifting strategic landscape, both countries must meet expectations or lose credibility as regional powers. – YaleGlobal