ENGLISH NEWS International

China blasts US report on Beijing’s Indian Ocean research, says it bolsters ‘China threat narrative’

China has blasted a report by a prominent United States think tank on the military uses of Chinese scientific research across the Indian Ocean, warning that the report gave “ammunition” to countries bent on constructing a “China threat narrative”, state media said.

The report unveiled by the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), “comes at a time when some countries need to manufacture a ‘China threat’ narrative in the Indian Ocean region and provides them with ammunition”, the state-controlled tabloid Global Times said in an editorial.

“The timing of this report is delicate,” given that the Maldives and China are upgrading ties after the election of President Mohamed Muizzu, while Sri Lanka, under Indian pressure recently suspended foreign research vessels, including from China, from visiting its ports.

“The scale of China’s activities is immense, and the line between its civilian and military research is heavily blurred,” as a thorough study of ocean depths, currents, and temperature was vital to China’s growing submarine operations, the study stated.

Beijing, whose “surveying operations have been heavily concentrated along its maritime periphery in the South China Sea and western Pacific Ocean,” is now also setting “its sights on the Indian Ocean, an emerging arena of competition between Beijing and New Delhi,” it said.

“China’s dual-use approach to oceanographic research raises questions about the nature of these activities. Many vessels that undertake missions for peaceful purposes are also capable of providing the PLA with critical data about the world’s oceans.”

“This expansion poses a significant challenge to key regional players like India, as well as to the United States and its allies.”

Meanwhile, the Global Times vindicated the ongoing commissioned study, stating that China and regional partners were exploring the natural ecology of the region “without any hidden agenda”.

“The Indian Ocean is one of the least understood oceans by the scientific community, and a fundamental reason is the lack of sufficient on-site observations,” the Global Times read.

“The unsolved mysteries surrounding the Indian Ocean not only result in scientific losses but also imply uncertainties faced by Indian Ocean countries in terms of climate, ocean currents, resources exploration, and other aspects,” it further read.