Raja Mandala: Battle for islands
Mains Paper 4: International Relations
Prelims level: Raja Mandala
Mains level: India and its neighborhood- relations. Bilateral, regional and
global groupings and agreements
involving India and/or affecting India's interests
- Simultaneous developments last week in different corners of the
Indo-Pacific — from the Maldives to Papua New Guinea —renewed geopolitical
importance of the island states.
- China’s push for greater influence in the Indo-Pacific and the
belated resistance from rival powers — including India, Australia, New
Zealand, Japan and the United States.
- Islands helped the replenishment of supplies, positioning of
troops and ammunition as well as for the host ship to do repair and
- Island dominance was the key to securing the sea lines of
- The Anglo-American maritime dominance over the last two centuries
helped limit the contestation for the islands.
Rising of China
- Today, the rise of China has pitchforked the island states back to
the centre stage of major power politics.
- For both Delhi and Male, the PM’s visit was about signalling
India’s enduring importance for the Maldives.
- Under Solih’s predecessor, Abdulla Yameen, India’s relations with
the Maldives rapidly deteriorated even as China’s influence began to rise.
- The intersection of Sino-Indian rivalry with domestic politics has
also come to the fore in neighbouring Sri Lanka.
- The Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena dismissed Prime
Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and installed the former president Mahinda
Rajapaksa as the head of government.
- Even before the rest of the world could absorb the meaning of
Sirisena’s political coup, the Chinese ambassador in Colombo showed up at
Rajapaksa’s office to congratulate him and convey the
best wishes of President Xi.
- If China is widely seen as the loser — at least for the moment —
from the elections in the Maldives, it was seen as a winner in Rajapaksa’s
return to power.
- China won to build the Colombo port city and the construction of a
new port at Hambantota in the southern part of the island.
- Looking further east, last week saw the island state of Papua New
Guinea host the annual summit of the forum for Asia-Pacific Economic
- As in the Maldives and Sri Lanka, the last few years have seen a
spectacular rise in Chinese commercial and political presence in Papua New
- Australia and the US announced that they will fund the development
of the port facilities in the Manus Island to the north-east of the main
- Earlier this year, Canberra nudged Beijing out of a deal to build
an under-sea internet cable between Papua, Australia and the Solomon
- This week, Australia joined the US, Japan and New Zealand in
unveiling a project to provide electricity to 70 per cent of the Papua New
Guinea population by 2030.
- Like Delhi in the Indian Ocean, Canberra and Wellington had
underestimated the scale and speed of China’s power projection into their
South Pacific neighbourhood.
- US which failed to react in time to China’s push to gain control
of the small rocks and islands of the South China Sea at the beginning of
- The unfolding contestation for influence in the island states of
the Indo-Pacific has just begun.
Q.1) The category ‘Right to freedom’ in Fundamental Rights of our
Constitution consists of
1. Right to form associations/union
2. Right to reside and settle in any part of India
3. Right to manage religious affairs
4. Right to life and liberty
Choose appropriate code:
a) 1, 3 and 4
b) 1 and 2 only
c) 1, 2 and 4 only
d) 2, 3 and 4 only
Q.1) How did the poorest member of the forum venture to host the summit
that brings leaders from 20-odd countries from America to China, Malaysia to
Japan and Canada to Chile?