According to media reports on Saturday, China will soon acquire control over the Indian Ocean by developing ports in Myanmar. The country has already attempted to gain control over India by establishing ports in Pakistan’s Gwadar, Sri Lanka’s Hambantota, and India’s Colombo. China has a long history of backing Myanmar’s military authorities while avoiding sanctions.
The China-Myanmar Economic Corridor (CMEC), a section of the Belt and Road Initiative that stretches from Yunnan Province to the Indian Ocean port of Kyaukphyu in western Myanmar, raises the stakes even more, according to The Irrawaddy. The fear is that the CMEC will allow China’s military, the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN), to infringe on India’s territorial waters in the Bay of Bengal. It will also allow China to avoid passing via the Strait of Malacca, which is monitored by the US Navy’s Seventh Fleet.
While the US and India appear to be at odds over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the two countries have a common interest in keeping the PLAN out of the Indian Ocean, according to the newspaper. India must strengthen its naval forces in order to face the PLAN’s challenge. However, the Navy always obtains a fraction of the cash it requests when it comes to India’s military spending.
Despite having only three branches of the military, India spends 15% of its military budget on its navy, while the United States spends 30%. It is unclear how much China spends on the PLAN. According to The Irrawaddy, China’s total defence spending of US$252 billion is more than three times that of India’s military budget of US$72.9 billion. The relationship between India and China has recently deteriorated due to border disputes.