Andrew S. Erickson and Gabriel B. Collins, “Dragon Tracks: Emerging Chinese Access Points in the Indian Ocean Region,” Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative, Center for Strategic and International Studies, 18 June 2015.
…to plot where China’s navy may be heading in the IOR, it helps to review where it’s been. That’s because establishing access points tends to be a long-term endeavor, based on enduring fundamentals observable from outside. Naval facilities generally require (1) reliable political support in a stable host nation, (2) robust logistics infrastructure, and (3) sufficient draft for all major ships.
On that basis, the patterns represented in Exhibit 1 (below) are instructive, but hardly surprising. Leaving aside the potential ports of the future colored in white (many of which receive Chinese investment, but remain under development), several dynamics stand out.
First, only two ports are colored red (indicating more than 20 PLAN port calls): Port Salalah, Oman and Djibouti. Only one is colored yellow (10-20 port calls): Aden, Yemen. In terms of both political support/stability and infrastructure, they are in two separate categories. Oman and Djibouti are both resource-limited oases of stability in geopolitically complex regions which seek economic and political benefits by cultivating positive strategic relations with diverse outside powers. Full article here.