The Upper Western Indian Ocean (UWIO) has been under China’s radar for the past two decades. The Belt and Road Initiative has strengthened the country’s image as a responsible stakeholder and a successful economic partner. Moreover, the United Nations have legitimized China’s military and security operations in the area. To what extent is China’s role of securitizing power dependent on its economic investments? How is Beijing’s deeper engagement modifying China’s relations with the main actors in the area? What responses could the country’s commitment elicit from India – the UWIO’s traditional hegemonic power?