China’s presence in the Indian Ocean Region is likely to grow significantly in coming years, principally driven by the country’s expanding economic interests. While China’s military presence will grow, its missions could remain limited. Achieving military predominance in the Indian Ocean Region would be a major undertaking requiring decades of sustained expansion of military capabilities and local security partnerships. Instead, in the short to medium term, China’s military capabilities will principally reflect its imperatives to protect nationals and assets and its soft power ambitions. China’s capabilities, including air power capabilities, will likely evolve over time to provide options in respect to a wider range of contingencies.
Dr David Brewster