With the PLA Navy now the biggest naval force on the planet in size and numbers, China is expanding its global footprint through sea-power and there are concerns that Chinese carrier strike forces may start patrolling the Indo-Pacific by 2025 if not earlier. This is in sharp contrast to Beijing treating the South China Sea as its own backyard and trying to restrict global movement of ships by imposing identity restrictions and using overt force for access restriction and denial.
As a part of its expanding naval footprint, China is engaging island nations off the eastern coast of Africa by co opting them in Belt Road Initiative as well as overtly gifting off-shore patrol vessels in the name of maritime security. Given that nations on Africa’s eastern seaboard—from South Africa to Djibouti—are under Chinese debt, the maritime security of the Indo-Pacific looks grim as even big nations like Indonesia apart from nations like Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Myanmar, Cambodia, and Laos are under economic levers of Beijing. Add to this, the Chinese engagement of Shia-Sunni powers in the Middle-East and the maritime security scenario becomes bleak for democratic powers like India, Australia and Japan.
The rising clout of China and its aggressive posture in the Indo-Pacific will be a subject of discussion at the G-7 summit in Tokyo and the QUAD summit in Sydney next month. With President Xi Jinping the undisputed dictator of the Communist Party of China (CPC), the expansion of the authoritarian Middle-Kingdom can only be countered by faster decision making from the democratic powers. Or else the dice is loaded in favor of China.
Source- Hindustan Times.