The game of one-upmanship between India and China in the Indian Ocean Region is set to take a new turn, with Beijing on Monday saying it plans to set up a base in the Seychelles.
"It is international practice for naval fleets to re-supply at the closest port of a nearby state during long-distance missions,” it said.
While there was no official Indian reaction, experts said the move would step up India-China rivalry in the region and spill over to the South China Sea, where Beijing has warned New Delhi against oil and gas exploration.
Strategic affairs expert Air Vice Marshal Kapil Kak said, “China’s move should not surprise us. Similarly, China should not be surprised by India getting assertive in the South China Sea. It’s part of a new maritime game unfolding in the region.”
Seychelles last week said it had invited China “to set up a military presence” to help it fight piracy. India, too, has offered the country help with its
China already has a foothold in the Indian Ocean, having scored a deal to explore polymetallic sulphide ore deposits there over the next 15 years.