Vol. 4 No. 2 (2021): Pakistan Journal of International Affairs

The Tripolar Great Game in the IOR Competition, Cooperation or Acute Confrontation

Published 2021-06-30


The domination of the seas has remained a prerequisite for acquisition of power in inter-state relations. The Indian Ocean Region (IOR) has long been considered a backwater to major power rivalry and global geopolitics. Despite being the smallest of the world’s oceans, the commercial and economic importance of Indian Ocean is never being questioned. IOR hosts major sea routes connecting four continents, Asia, Africa, Europe, and America, and has gained significant geostrategic importance because of rising Chinese naval power and a refocus on sea lanes as an arena of both competition and cooperation. It facilitates maritime trade in the region, transports more than half of the world's seaborne oil and hosts twenty-three of the world's top 100 container ports. However, it is often seen through a highly securitized lens. Three major powers which account for nearly half of global economy in the Indian Ocean arena, India, China, and United States, are vying for influence. China’s large and growing economic investment is reshaping the region, forcing both US and India to adapt. It has the maritime silk road which is half of the Belt and Road Initiative. United States reacted to it with the Indo-Pacific and Asia-Pivot strategy, and India through its Look-East policy. Pakistan, being one of the major trade corridors in IOR, possesses the golden chair. The paper is an attempt to investigate the tripolar great game amongst Beijing, Washington and New Delhi and examines whether the thrust is regional cooperation, competition, or acute confrontation. (Baqai, 2021, February 12) The parallel themes of twenty-first century regionalism and a crisscross of geopolitics and geoeconomics will also be factored in.