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India – China tensions in Andaman Sea UPSC NOTE

 Complexities and challenges in the Strait of Malacca in the context of a broader U.S.-China conflict


  • The Strait of Malacca is a vital shipping lane for global trade, with over 100,000 ships passing through it each year.

  • The strait is also a narrow and shallow waterway, making it difficult to navigate and defend.

  • The strait is surrounded by several countries, including Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore.

  • They all have different interests and perspectives.

  • The Strait of Malacca is a heavily militarized area, with both the United States and China having significant naval forces in the region.


  • Any military action in the Strait of Malacca would likely disrupt global trade and could lead to a wider conflict.

  • The US and China have a strong interest in maintaining the stability of the Strait of Malacca, but they also have competing interests in the region.

  • A conflict in the Strait of Malacca would have a devastating impact on the economies of the countries in the region.

Additional points,

  • The United States and China are increasingly rivals in the Asia-Pacific region.

  • A conflict between the United States and China in the Strait of Malacca could have a significant impact on the global economy.

Need for a careful and strategic approach from India

  • There are multiple constraints in regard to India’s options in the Strait of Malacca. 

  • First, “distant blockades” away from a belligerent nation’s geography can be challenged under international law. 

  • Second, the trade that passes through the Strait of Malacca is not just China’s economic and energy lifeline

  • An overwhelming volume of the trade of Japan, South Korea and even India itself passes through the same Strait. 

  • Third, the channel of the Strait of Malacca is long, nearly 500 miles, and involves the sovereignty of other states such as Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore .

  • Fourth, commercial shipping is extremely complex to identify in terms of the sovereignty of the vessel, flag, registration, insurance and ownership of cargo

  • These are often multinational in nature and can also be changed as convenient through transshipment at any port in Southeast Asia. 

  • Shipping can take a detour either through the Sunda or the Lombok Straits to reach China.

  • In any case, very large crude carriers carrying crude or natural gas to China do not use the Strait of Malacca which is shallower

  • They use the Sunda Strait. 

  • Sixth, China also has a huge onshore and floating Strategic Petroleum Reserves (SPR) which can help it tide over disruptions, especially with growing overland energy supplies from Russia and Central Asia.

Strait of Malacca

Andaman Sea

Sunda and  the Lombok Straits 



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Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam: India – China tensions in Andaman Sea UPSC NOTE
India – China tensions in Andaman Sea UPSC NOTE
Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam
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