And their presence has implications for Australia. Naval posturing is nothing new. Gunboat diplomacy has been a major player in great power games of thrones for centuries. But it is odd for it to be played out so close to home. A scattering of pristine coral islands in the Indian Ocean is becoming the next flash point between New Delhi and Beijing. The Maldives islands are in the throes of a constitutional crisis. The little democracy has traditionally been part of India’s “sphere of influence”. And the eastern Indian Ocean is, of course, of significant strategic importance to Australia. But recently a new kid has arrived on the block. And now Beijing’s grown enough confidence to let its presence be felt in the area’s affairs. A naval force of at least one modern destroyer, a frigate, an amphibious assault ship and a support tanker entered the Indian Ocean last week. It is believed destined to linger off the scenic scatterings of coral, sand and palm trees. International affairs analysts believe they’re there to stop India from intervening. Beijing, after all, has big plans for these little islands. And it doesn’t want the locals getting in the way. Blue skies. White… Read full this story
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