At a recent press conference in New Delhi, India’s Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman surprised reporters by stating that she saw ‘no tension between the navies of India and China in the Indian Ocean’. In response to a question about a perceived ‘tussle’ for supremacy in the Indian Ocean, Sitharaman downplayed the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) threat in India’s near-seas, choosing curiously not to elaborate on the matter. (…). In its attempts to maintain a favourable balance of naval power in the Indian Ocean, New Delhi has drawn close to Washington and Tokyo. The trilateral India–US–Japan Malabar exercises have grown in scope and complexity with the addition of more combat drills, but New Delhi has been strangely reluctant to expand the tent to accommodate the Royal Australian Navy. It is possible India might consider entering into other trilateralarrangements (possibly with France and Australia) before assenting to a large naval coalition in the Indian Ocean. To New Delhi’s credit, it has stepped up its game in the Western Indian Ocean — the focal point of China’s investment and infrastructure initiatives in the Indo-Pacific region. After signing logistical pacts with Oman and France, India has strengthened maritime ties with Mauritius, Seychelles, Mozambique and Madagascar. A visit by Indian President Ram Nath Kovind to East African island states in April 2018 demonstrated New Delhi’s resolve to rise to the challenge posed by China in the Western Indian Ocean littoral. (…)