Between Giants: The Sino-Indian cold war in the Indian Ocean

National Security College
Author name: 
Brewster, D.
Institute Francais des Relations Internationales (IFRI)
Journal title: 
Notes De L'Ifrie - Asie. Visions

Strategic competition between India and China in the Indian Ocean is growing and has the potential to profoundly impact the stability and security of the region. The Indian Ocean is becoming the scene of a sustained contest that in some ways resembles strategic competition during the Cold War. This will include pressure on Indian Ocean states to align themselves with one side or another within an increasingly unstable and complex strategic environment.

This report by the Institute Francais des Relations Internationales (IFRI) examines political crises that occurred in the Maldives during 2018 as a case study on the impact of potential impact of Sino-Indian strategic competition on the stability of many states the region. These events in the Maldives demonstrated the influence wielded by Delhi and Beijing, but also the constraints they each face. How far will Beijing go in supporting ‘friendly’ leaders and what are India’s options to respond? What is the impact of local democratic forces on contests for power and influence by major powers?

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