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A Chinese admiral's proposal to build a naval base in the Gulf of Aden, ostensibly to supports Beijing's anti-piracy flotilla off Somalia, has alarm bells ringing in the region.
China's growing naval encroachment in the Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean to protect its Middle Eastern oil supplies threatens eventual conflict with India, its longtime rival and Asia's other economic titan that is also flexing its muscles in its regional quest for oil.
The Chinese navy joined the international operation against the Somali pirates a year ago with a couple of warships and a supply ship.
It was the first long-range projection of Chinese naval power in the region in 600 years...
Chinese warships have been using a French naval base at Djibouti for resupply.
... Beijing has been setting up bases across the Indian Ocean in competition with India for some time.
As the world's largest importer of crude oil, China is reportedly interested in establishing naval bases in Bangladesh, Cambodia, Myanmar, Pakistan and Thailand to protect its increasingly important maritime supply routes from the Middle East and Africa.
"Beijing is pursuing a two-pronged strategy to secure its energy, using the navy to protect maritime supply and building new pipelines," according to Jane's Intelligence Review.
China is building a major deepwater port on the Arabian Sea at Gwadar in Pakistan that could become a key naval base for China's expanding submarine fleet.
China is now mulling the acquisition of aircraft carriers to bolster power projection in the Arabian Sea. It recently unveiled its first nuclear submarines capable of long-distance operations.