- Myanmar and Cambodia both say that they are not part of China's plan, but the facts show that they are.
- Indian security planners have moved quickly to improve the military infrastructure on both the AN Islands and the Lakshadweep Islands.
The administration of Narendra Modi has put deterrence capabilities on the Andamans and Nicobar Islands to show that it is in charge of the Indian Ocean and to counter the growing Chinese naval presence in the area.
National security planners and the military aren’t saying much about the tri-service AN Command’s deterrence capabilities, but India is keeping an eye on Chinese-backed activity in Myanmar’s Coco Islands and Cambodia’s Ream national park, which is close to a naval base in Sihanoukville province.
Beijing has a significant presence in Hambantota port in Sri Lanka, Gwadar in Balochistan, Chah Bahar in Iran, and Khalifa port in the United Arab Emirates. It also has its first military post outside of China in Djibouti, which is in the east of Africa.
From what we know, the Myanmar government expanded and widened the runway at Coco Island strip from 1300 to 2300 meters and built sheds in 2021 and 2022 so that transport planes could use the strip to bring supplies to the island, which is only 55 km north of the Indian AN islands. Even though Chinese people don’t live on Coco Islands full-time, they are often observed on the isolated Myanmar outpost, where about 150 Myanmar people work.
Even though there is no proof of it, India thinks that an air defense and air surveillance system will be built on the southern point of Coco, where a causeway is being built to connect it to the next island and land is being cleared.
With an enhanced radar system, Ream National Park is likely to have the same air defense and air surveillance capabilities as Djibouti. The US thinks it will be the second Chinese offshore post after Djibouti and the first PLA base in the Indo-Pacific. Cambodia and Laos are the two ASEAN countries with whom China has the closest relationship. Last month, the PLA and the Cambodian Navy held their first combined naval exercise in Cambodian seas.
Myanmar and Cambodia both say that they are not part of China’s plan, but the facts show that they are. Both countries are part of Beijing’s Belt Road Initiative (BRI), and neither has the money to build air defenses or fortified shelters.
Due to China’s growing influence in the Indo-Pacific and the fact that its most important ships are often in the region, Indian security planners have moved quickly to improve the military infrastructure on both the AN Islands and the Lakshadweep Islands.
As work is pushed to develop Campbell Bay on Great Nicobar Island, both land-based and sea-based deterrents have been put in place. On India’s east coast, in the state of Andhra Pradesh, the Indian Navy’s eastern command has set up similar deterrents to deal with any military threat. In the future, the AN Command will be the first line of defense for the Indian military. It will be a component of a theater command that is focused on a rising China.