JOURNAL OF DEFENCE STUDIES

Samudra Manthan: Sino-Indian Rivalry in the Indo-Pacific, by C. Raja Mohan

Major General Mandip Singh was formerly a Senior Fellow at the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, New Delhi. Click here for details profile.
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  • October 2013
    Volume: 
    7
    Issue: 
    4
    Book Review

    Samudra Manthan is a book whose time has come. It brings to the table the other dimension of the Sino-Indian rivalry, which is often missed by the larger group of policymakers: the maritime and naval aspects of the relationship. Raja Mohan borrows from Indian mythology in selecting the name of this lucid and well-researched account of the emerging frontiers of Sino-Indian rivalry in the Indo-Pacific. He believes that ‘the churning of the seas’ is inevitable as the maritime interests of both nations converge in the large expanse of the waters of the Indian and Pacific oceans—hence, the Indo-Pacific. The author argues that, essentially, the strategic interplays between the three maritime powers in the Indo-Pacific, namely, the United States (US), China and India will determine the future course of security in the region. The commonality of the US and Indian interests—despite an ambivalent India and the growing strategic engagement between the US and China in the background of the former’s rebalancing to East Asia—will ensure the balance of power in the Indo-Pacific. Yet, he warns that this triangular relationship would be fragile and a ‘tipping point’ could easily be reached wherein growing Chinese assertiveness and aggressive behaviour may drive India towards the US, abandoning their ‘current strategic inhibitions’.

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