Samudra Manthan: Sino-Indian Rivalry in the Indo-Pacific

Despite the huge differences in the current naval capabilities of China, India, and the United States, the three countries are locked in a triangular struggle destined to mold the future Indo-Pacific.
Published October 24, 2012 by Washington
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Rising China and emerging India are becoming major maritime powers. As they build large navies to secure their growing interests, both nations are roiling the waters of the Indo-Pacific—the vast littoral stretching from Africa to Australasia.

Invoking a tale from Hindu mythology—Samudra Manthan or “to churn the ocean”—C. Raja Mohan tells the story of a Sino-Indian rivalry spilling over from the Great Himalayas into the Indian and Pacific Oceans. He examines the prospects of mitigating the tensions and constructing a stable Indo-Pacific order.

America, the dominant power in the area, is being drawn into the unfolding Sino-Indian competition. Despite the huge differences in the current naval capabilities of China, India, and the United States, Mohan argues that the three countries are locked in a triangular struggle destined to mold the future Indo-Pacific.

Reviews for this publication

“Samudra Manthan offers deep insights into the emerging Indo-Pacific theatre as the rising maritime profiles of India and China begin to intersect. Raja Mohan’s perceptive analysis of the U.S. role in shaping Sino-Indian rivalry is a valuable contribution to the debate on changing great power relations in Asia and its waters.”

—Shyam Saran, former foreign secretary and special envoy of the prime minister of India

"Mohan’s realist approach to the Sino-Indian competition in the Pacific and Indian Oceans merits serious reflection. His penetrating strategic analysis underlines the importance of the two Asian powers dispelling mutual suspicion and stabilizing the oceans in our rapidly changing world."

—Shen Dingli, professor of American Studies, Fudan University, Shanghai

“C. Raja Mohan demonstrates once again why he is India's finest strategic thinker. In Samudra Manthan, he explores a complex issue, namely the prospect for a serious Sino-Indian naval rivalry in the Indian Ocean, well ahead of its time. As the United States sustains its own strategic rebalancing towards the Indo-Pacific, Mohan's judicious and balanced analysis bears close reading not only for its insights into how the evolving naval contestation between China and India promises to intensify their existing security competition but also how American choices will shape, and be shaped by, the outcomes produced by this encounter.”

—Ashley J. Tellis, senior associate, South Asia Program, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

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Comments (2)

  • thmak
    2 Recommends
    The first thing to consider is that the dominant naval power in that area is America. So the issue should be the rivalry between the American naval power and the upcoming India and Chinese naval powers. If there is no rivalry between American and India naval power, there should also no rivalry between American and Chinese naval power, not to mention the Indo-China rivalry. So to mention Indo-Chinese rivalry has a devilish intention.
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    • Pegasus replies...
      That Is true if you would consider both countrys as the same politcally and economically however these two powers (India and China) are both Politically very different and the U.S may have more rivalry against a Socialist System than a democratic one stemming from conflicts of intrest and uncertainty as to motives
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