What Happened: The Indian Navy will open a new air base on the Andaman and Nicoman Islands as part of an effort to better monitor Chinese ships and submarines crossing through the Bay of Bengal, Reuters reported Jan. 23. It is the third air base the Indian Navy has commissioned on the islands and includes a runway to accommodate surveillance aircraft and helicopters.
Why It Matters: India's decision to enhance its military presence on the Andaman and Nicobar islands reflects New Delhi's intention to expand its influence in the Indian Ocean as it finds itself competing with China over dominance in the region.
Background: India's dependence on sea lanes for trade and energy transports makes naval power an essential imperative of its foreign policy. Although China and India have been attempting to ease bilateral tensions following their standoff on the Doklam Plateau in 2017, the strategic drivers of their geopolitical rivalry are compelling New Delhi to reassess its relationships with strategically located island nations in the region, including Sri Lanka, the Maldives, the Seychelles and Mauritius.
- India Looks for a Strategic Edge in Its Indian Ocean Contest With China (Nov. 23, 2018)
- India Guards Against China's Encroaching Shadow (Nov. 9, 2018)
- After a Collision in Doklam, India and China Are Correcting Course (Sept. 6, 2018)