The East Moves West: India, China, and Asias Growing Presence in the Middle East

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Though experts say the probability of military conflict between China and India remains low, escalated activities such as port development and military exercises and rhetoric could endanger stability in a critical region for global trade flows. But the diverse nontraditional security challenges in the Indian Ocean Region IOR also offer areas of potential collaboration for China and India, as well as other regional actors.

It provides critical sea trade routes that connect the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia with the broader Asian continent to the east and Europe to the west. Defense and Security. Oceans and Seas.

The Middle East and Asia's interdependent ties

China and India are dependent on energy resources transported via the secure sealanes in the Indian Ocean to fuel their economies. According to a U. As Beijing and New Delhi press to maintain economic growth, their dependency on the safe transport of resources will likely intensify.

Diverse security challenges affect the region ranging from natural disasters to concerns over energy security, piracy, and military posturing. Since launching counterpiracy operations in , Beijing has become increasingly active in the region. For its part, India sees itself as the natural preeminent regional power. Chinese behavior suggests that Beijing seeks to establish a persistent regional maritime presence.

Raja Mohan, director of Carnegie India, a regional center of the U.

The East Moves West: India, China, and Asia's Growing Presence in the Middle East

Markey in a Contingency Planning Memorandum. Beijing says its activities are commercially motivated and intended to better protect its interests and people abroad. As China adapts its military force to meet its global ambitions, its posturing has grown bolder. India is also reinforcing its regional maritime presence.


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Small regional states, such as Bangladesh, Maldives, Myanmar, Seychelles and Sri Lanka, are recipients of both Chinese and Indian aid and investment, primarily for transport and infrastructure development. The majority of their foreign policy ties are determined by what deals can be made to help them meet their national development goals, says Nilanthi Samaranayake of Virginia-based CNA, a nonprofit research and analysis organization.

India, China, and Asia's Growing Presence in the Middle East

Despite the rise in competition, multilateral cooperation involving China, India, and other states, takes place on issues including piracy, disaster relief, and drug smuggling. The following areas show potential for expanded cooperation:. Counterpiracy efforts near the Gulf of Aden have been the most successful manifestation of regional cooperation. Since military cooperation began, the volume of attacks has shrunk.

The East Moves West, Part 3

In many ways, the growing Asian presence in the Middle East comes as a breath of fresh air in comparison to the bitter historic legacies of European dominance and the contemporary antagonism toward America's hegemonic role. The major Asian players in the Middle East feel no guilt about the past, and they have no emotional stake in the Arab-Israeli conflict.


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  4. On the one hand, this means they approach the region's many unresolved conflicts with what some would argue is a cynical, laissez-faire attitude. On the other, it means that they have refrained from interfering directly in Middle East politics and therefore enjoy good relations with most states. It is unclear how long they can sustain this hands off approach if, by virtue of their economic dominance and their own strategic stakes in the region, they get drawn into the messiness of Middle East politics at a time when the United States becomes disillusioned by the burdens of hegemony.

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