The Indian Ocean is Australia's backyard - at least if one lives in the West. It also plays a major role in transporting energy from the oil- and gas-rich Persian Gulf to Australia's principal trading partners, China and Japan.
With each passing year, these and other East Asian powers become more dependent on the free passage of oil across the Indian Ocean.
This dependency makes China nervous. India and China have an ambivalent relationship. On the one hand, they have common interests, based on growing trade and similar positions in the World Trade Organization and on climate change. But, on the other, they have abiding suspicions over the long-standing border dispute and what India sees as Chinese meddling in its own back yard: South Asia and the Indian Ocean region.