In recent years, China's strategic community has emerged as an increasingly vocal and influential constituent of Chinese policy debates. This article focuses on Chinese analysts steeped in the realpolitik tradition. These intellectuals and strategists discern a troubling trend towards intense competition and zero-sum interactions in the Indian Ocean. In their view, a progressively assertive India will set the pace of the impending maritime rivalries among the great powers. This article argues that if such a grim forecast takes hold in Beijing, power plays already underway in the Indian Ocean will likely become more pronounced and contentious.