Antipiracy and Unusual Coalitions in the Indian Ocean Region: China’s Changing Role and Confidence Building with India

Olivia Gippner


Piracy and threats from non-state actors in the Gulf of Aden have triggered states to cooperate in securing waterways and the sea lines of communication, a development that is fundamentally transforming the region’s maritime security environment. As a result, not only has this region’s strategic importance been reaffirmed, but it has also gained tremendous importance through the presence of several actors, especially China and India. Since 2008, these two countries have been involved in larger global actions against piracy, which has led to increasing contact between their navies and more exposure of their capabilities. Will the broader Indian Ocean region emerge as an area of cooperation or competition between China and India? Drawing on interviews carried out with Chinese and European experts from 2012 to 2015, this article explores the reasons for and instruments of cooperation in antipiracy and the degree to which China uses antipiracy efforts as confidence-building measures.

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