PLA Strategies In The Indian Ocean And The Malacca And Sunda Straits


james smith esq

Senior Member
Registered Member
In this thread, we will discuss PLA options for projecting air and naval power into the Indian Ocean and for protecting access to the vital shipping avenues in the Malacca and Sunda Straits.
 

tphuang

Brigadier
VIP Professional
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This seems to be very related to the SCS thread, but I will bite.

China really needs to settle its dispute with its neighbours if it wants to keep its trade routes safe. I was reading today on some of the articles about those "man made islands" in South China Sea
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The way I look at is that China has probably angered some of its neighbours by claiming islands/reefs that are far from its border. They have different disputes with different countries. In some cases, I think the disputes are so large (like the one with Vietnam) that I don't think they can be settled. In other cases like Philippines and Indonesia, I don't see why they can't be settled. In the end, the rocks/reefs of South China Sea provide both strategic value and commercial value. China has reclaimed enough land around its reefs to control South China Sea conflict and to successfully conduct electronic warfare against all naval ships passing by. From strategic point of view, I don't think they need to build more. Commercially, they should try to work out on sharing the possible oil/gas fields in these areas. These areas do not hold Saudi Arabia level of reserves. Imo, it's more important to work it out with neighbours rather than each side holding out to claim everything.

If we just go through the countries in this area:
1) Philippines - A rather poor country with a lot of internal problems and several disputed islands with China. China already sells/gifts a bunch of weapons to Philippines. There is a lot of ethnic Chinese people in Philippines that do well. It shouldn't be that difficult for China to work something out and pull the Filippinos into its sphere of influence. The possibility of EDCA seems to be a far greater cost to China than some gas field around Spratleys.
2) Indonesia - I find Indonesia's claim to Natuna Sea to be a little aggressive, since Malaysia is far close to the islands that Indonesia is claiming. Again, Indonesia is very strategic located. A base in Indonesia would be very beneficial to Indonesia. Indonesia also has a very large and growing population. It has a lot of economic issues and a major city sinking issue with Jakarta. There are things that China can offer to Indonesia for closer relationship between the two countries. Even if they don't completely agree on border, there is no reason they can't settle on status quo and work out economic settlement on oil/gas exploration. Keep in mind that China had exported some weapons to Indonesia in the past. As we get to 2030s, Indonesia would be an obvious target export market for FC-31. China can pull Indonesia into its sphere of influence with some level of settlement on territorial claims, greater economic relationship and more military export. I think the benefits of having military base in Indonesia would be greater than any oil/gas field concessions they might need to make.
3) Malaysia - Another country that China has pretty good relationship with. It's not a country that gets advanced Western military hardware. China can be quite competitive here with FC-31. Malaysia also has a huge Chinese population that controls the country's wealth/businesses. There is already a lot of economic ties between the 2 countries. As China develops newer military hardware, this is exactly the type of country it needs to target. I don't think they need a base here, just neutrality in the event of a conflict.
4) Singapore - As I discussed in the Taiwan thread, China has the greatest resource that Singapore needs - han Chinese people. There is nothing that scares Chinese Singapore elites as much as losing the Chinese majority and end up becoming like Malaysia. Singapore tries hard to import ethnically Chinese people from everywhere in Asia. The young Chinese Singaporeans still all speak mandarin. Again, they have a lot of strong western influence due to its increasing role as the finance capital of Asia. However, there is no reason for China to just accept Singapore as a country that will automatically side with the West. As mainlanders continue to immigrate to Singapore, there will continue to be a lot of cultural link there with the mainland. Singapore can be a link between China and the West. And at some point, China will have enough advanced weapons to be able to export to Singapore.
5) Thailand - Another major influential power. A lot of people don't know this but 60% of Thai population are at least partially ethnically Chinese. There is a lot of Chinese tourists that visited Thailand every year pre-COVID. I think it's absolutely natural for China to fight for influences over Thailand. Thailand already imports quite a bit of weapons from China. The two countries have pretty good relationship already. I don't think they need military base in Thailand.

As a whole, I think China should make ASEAN their major sphere of political influence. They will need to work on some of the territorial issues they have with ASEAN countries. Vietnam might be too much of a hurdle. Every other country is quite possible. I think Indonesia is the major one in there. It's the most strategically located and have the largest populations. Indonesians also have major anti-Chinese sentiment due to Chinese Indonesians controlling most of the wealth in their country. But it's also the country I think China should approach the hardest and maybe support Indonesia's bid to be a regional power.

If China can get its relationship with ASEAN worked out, a lot of its SLOC issues will resolve themselves.
 

Jono

Junior Member
Registered Member
China indeed was patient in handling the SCS dispute.
She called for restraint and diplomatic solutions through dialogue.
but her plea fell on deaf ears, and Vietnam and the Philippines started reclaiming some islands and drilling for oil.
China saw what they did, and then began to teach them how to properly reclaim and build up artificial islands on a massive scale.
 

Ex0

New Member
Registered Member
This question assumes some entities will be blocking china's trade routes (an act of war against china). First tell me which country or countries will be declaring war vs china, and then I can think some reasons why they wouldn't, because if they would, china would utterly destroy them. They don't gain anything from attacking china. Like take for example India. China could just shell new Dehli and light up the whole country with just conventional rockets, which is why India has enough trouble just maintaining it's northern borders. Let alone fighting china at sea where china has overwhelming advantage(look at sub counts and tech, destroyers, etc), let alone a two front war vs china and Pakistan and vs china at sea also.
 

gelgoog

Brigadier
Registered Member
They will start by moving production outside China then later they will try to do a naval blockade of China. They will sanction Chinese manufacturers exports abroad which compete with their products like they did with Huawei smartphone division.
They are already in the process of doing this. Watchout once they try to move motherboard manufacturing outside China.
 

tphuang

Brigadier
VIP Professional
Registered Member
China indeed was patient in handling the SCS dispute.
She called for restraint and diplomatic solutions through dialogue.
but her plea fell on deaf ears, and Vietnam and the Philippines started reclaiming some islands and drilling for oil.
China saw what they did, and then began to teach them how to properly reclaim and build up artificial islands on a massive scale.
well, the spratley islands are a lot closer to Vietnam and Philippines, so they have better claims to them. More importantly, most of the little rocks/reefs have already been claimed in the 70s and 80s. If China did not claim more islands, that's due to its own weakness.

China only started expanding the size of its little islands after the 9 dash claim lost in the courts. Why is it important for them to have more of these little rocks? They only need a few of them for dominating SCS militarily. There should be ways they can resolve these issues with Phillipines and Indonesia.
 

duncanidaho

Junior Member
well, the spratley islands are a lot closer to Vietnam and Philippines, so they have better claims to them.

No they don't! Since the Qing Dynasty, China continuously claims the Spratly , Paracel, Pratas Islands and Macclesfield banks (Nansha, Xisha, Dongsha and Zhongsha Qundao) as part of the chinese territory at a time when Vietnam was a french colony and Philippine doesn't even exist. Also is geographical proximity not a good indicator to have better claims.

China only started expanding the size of its little islands after the 9 dash claim lost in the courts.

No that is also not true, China started with the reclamation of the Islands 2014. The decision of the kangaroo court (PCA) was in July 2016, two years later!






 

tphuang

Brigadier
VIP Professional
Registered Member
No they don't! Since the Qing Dynasty, China continuously claims the Spratly , Paracel, Pratas Islands and Macclesfield banks (Nansha, Xisha, Dongsha and Zhongsha Qundao) as part of the chinese territory at a time when Vietnam was a french colony and Philippine doesn't even exist. Also is geographical proximity not a good indicator to have better claims.
except no other surrounding countries have accepted those claims. Regardless of the weaknesses of other countries, China itself was also unable to physically control those islands. You can claim as many places as you want, but if you don't control it, then your claims won't be any stronger than other countries.

China signed away a lot of disputed territorial claims it had with Russia when they settled their border disputes. At the end of the day, they need to discuss whether it's more important to settle disputes with its neighbors and dominate SCS militarily or argue over gas exploration rights.

No that is also not true, China started with the reclamation of the Islands 2014. The decision of the kangaroo court (PCA) was in July 2016, two years later!
Maybe looking like it would loose that case would be the right way to put it? At the end of the day, the island expansion projects were done for domination of SCS and for expanding their claims over the area (since now you have real islands instead of just rocks). Now, if they can settle these claims with Philippines and Indonesia and have their share of islands in SCS, America would have no leg to stand on in this dispute at all. Do you want China to continue arguing about a few rocks and exploration rights or do you want it to continue having its expanded islands + naval bases in friendly countries in SCS? The Chinese government and PLA really needs to think about this. USN isn't going away with its freedom of navigation trips to SCS or its attempts to add air base in Philippines as long as China does not resolve its disputes with its neighbors.
 

Hendrik_2000

Lieutenant General
That is defeatist attitude and weak knee believing in western propaganda. Those scs is definitely needed as a sanctuary for China nuclear sub and the air base in those islet will provide protection for those submarine. China geography is practically guarantee isolation in case of war and will be bottle necked in first island chain. Those bases in SCSis is bastion for China nuclear sub It is not just little rock. Anyone who believe in it is just naïve coming from someone who claim to be smart analyst of Chinese military.

Another thing why care for Indonesia good will that country is basket case and has been murdering, looting Chinese and raping Chinese women for ages I guess this naïve TP huang never read history of SEA
 

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