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The Australian National University

Narendra Modi and Xi JinpingCONFERENCE

India and China at Sea: Competition and Coexistence in the Indo-Pacific Maritime Domain

India and China are fast emerging as major maritime powers of the Indo-Pacific as part of long term shifts in the regional balance of power. As their wealth, interests and power expand, India and China also increasingly come into contact with each other in the shared Indo-Pacific maritime domain. The extent to which their interactions in this space will involve elements of cooperation, coexistence, competition or confrontation may be one of the key strategic issues of the 21st century. This conference brought together leading experts from India, China and Australia to discuss the India-China relationship in the Indo-Pacific maritime domain. It focused on:

  • Indian and Chinese perspectives on the status and legitimacy of their roles and military presence in the Indian Ocean
  • China’s emerging Indo-Pacific naval strategy
  • changes in Indian perspectives on China and the Indian Ocean under the Modi and Singh governments
  • aspects of India’s evolving naval strategy in the Indian Ocean, including Indian perspectives on maritime domain awareness

Speakers: Various, see program below
Date: Monday, 10 October 2016
Venue: Barton Theatre, Level 1, Crawford Building #132, 1 Lennox Crossing, ANU
Please note: this event has passed.


Welcome and introduction

Professor Craig Jeffrey, Director and CEO, Australia India Institute

Professor Rory Medcalf, Head, National Security College, Australian National University

Sino-Indian relations in the Indian Ocean: a contest of status and legitimacy

Dr David Brewster examines Indian and Chinese perspectives on their respective roles in the Indian Ocean. He discusses China’s strategic imperatives in the Indian Ocean region, India’s views on its special role in the Indian Ocean and the presence of other powers, and Chinese perspectives on its own regional role.

Speaker:  Dr David Brewster, Senior Research Fellow, National Security College                 

Discussant:  Mr Pramit Pal Chaudhuri, Foreign Editor, Hindustan Times

Morning tea

China's emerging Indo-Pacific naval strategy

Professor You Ji looks at the evolution of Chinese Indo Pacific naval strategy. He argues that China’s long term strategy in the Indian Ocean is to move from selective sea denial to a strategy of selective sea control. While China’s strategy is not intended to challenge India’s interests in the Indian Ocean, it also rejects the idea of the Indian Ocean being India’s.

Speaker:  Professor You Ji, University of Macau

Discussant:  Dr Jian Zhang, Australian Defence Force Academy


New Delhi at Sea:  The China Factor in Indian Ocean Policy under the Modi and Singh governments

Mr Pramit Pal Chaudhuri gives a New Delhi insider’s view on India’s efforts to engage with China over the last decade. He argues that by the end of the last Indian government, Indian policy makers had concluded that that their approach of engagement had failed.  Chaudhuri tracks changes in India’s approach under Narendra Modi, including India’s decision to align with the United States and Japan. 
Speaker: Mr Pramit Pal Chaudhuri, Foreign Editor, Hindustan Times

Discussant:  Professor Jingdong Yuan, University of Sydney

Afternoon tea

Aspects of India’s evolving naval strategy in the Indian Ocean

This session discussed two important aspects of Indian naval strategy in the Indian Ocean. First, Mr Abhijit Singh discussed Indian perspectives on China’s actions in the South China Sea and how that might affect the balance of power in the Indian Ocean.  Mr Darshana Baruah then discussed India’s plans to develop its maritime domain awareness capabilities around South Asia and across the entire Indian Ocean.

Speaker: Mr Abhijit Singh, Senior Fellow, Observer Research Foundation

Speaker: Ms Darshana Baruah, Carnegie India




This conference was co-hosted by the ANU National Security College and the
Australia India Institute
with the assistance of
the John D and Catherine T MacArthur Foundation


The National Security College is a joint initiative of the Commonwealth Government and ANU.

Updated:  25 October 2016/ Responsible Officer:  Head of College, National Security College/ Page Contact:  Web administrator, National Security College