Indian president Ram Nath Kovind’s visit to Madagascar in March was a sign of the growing importance of strategic islands in the Indian Ocean region. The visit—the first ever by an Indian head of state—underlines both Madagascar’s strategic location in the southwest Indian Ocean and Delhi’s historical disregard toward island nations, a misstep that the foreign office has begun correcting only recently.
Read commentary and analysis from the top AMTI experts on maritime Asia.
Over the last five years, many volumes have been written about the South China Sea. But perhaps the most potentially explosive situation in maritime Asia lies to the north, in the East China Sea.
On March 6, Australia and Timor-Leste signed a landmark treaty delimiting their maritime boundaries in the Timor Sea. Much of the media has presented the agreement as resolving the long-running disputes between Australia and Timor-Leste over maritime boundaries and resources. This is inaccurate, largely because the most difficult issue—the development of Greater Sunrise—remains ongoing.
Despite several meetings on joint development in the South China Sea, substantive talks between Philippine and Chinese officials have not taken place, and nearly two years later both parties are still in the exploratory stage.
Against the backdrop of decreased tensions following the 2016 arbitral tribunal award, the Taiwanese government has adjusted its South China Sea policy and tried to strike a cautious balance with fellow claimants.
An Indonesian government regulation passed with little fanfare in early 2018 may pave the way for a new air defense identification zone in Southeast Asia.
The reestablishment of the Quad in 2017 points to tectonic shifts in the geopolitics of Asia and in the foreign policies of the members of the original Quad.
China’s activities in the Indian Ocean have attracted a great deal of interest in recent years. There is no doubt that Chinese engagement is changing regional security dynamics in the current peacetime environment.