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Robert Kaplan: Indian Ocean becomes battleground for India and China

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Opinion: Will US naval power sink?

China's ongoing dispute in the East China Sea over islands claimed by Japan is the most recent example of Beijing's growing assertiveness on water. South Korea and Indonesia – the other stopovers for Mr. Obama next month – are also wary of China's wide-reaching maritime claims. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, for her part, seems to be filling in the gap between these countries with her upcoming visits to Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Australia, and New Zealand.

Rise of India and China

A correspondent for the Atlantic and member of the Defense Policy Board federal advisory committee, Kaplan says he is convinced that the West should focus on the role that emerging superpowers China and India will play as they battle for dominance in the Indian Ocean, an area rich in resources and vital to shipping.

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