Both China and India, the two most populous countries on the planet, have large naval ambitions. While China has traditionally been a land-based power, it has – over the last two decades – built up its naval capacities significantly. On January 26, 2018 it released its white paper on China’s Arctic Policy, which called China a “near Arctic state” and emphasised its concerns and interests in the region.
India has a longer history of naval engagement, with a long coastline and a warm water navy that has a natural cruising range from Egypt and South Africa in the west, to Vietnam and Australia in the east. Its interests have traditionally been to the south, with a first expedition to Antarctica in 1981. Over time it has also developed an Arctic interest, as changes in the Arctic have a significant impact on sea-level rise and the South Asian monsoon. Oil and minerals in the Arctic are too far away for India to economically access, but given its growth needs, they are of interest.