Jan. 11, 2019– Mary Greeley News – Indian Navy chief Admiral Sunil Lanba on Wednesday said that at least six to eight warships of China’s People’s Liberation Army Navy could always be found sailing in the northern part of Indian Ocean.
“They (Chinese Navy) are a force and they are a force which is here to stay,” Admiral Lanba said, while speaking at the Raisina Dialogue in New Delhi.
He was replying to a query on India’s concerns over growing Chinese PLA Navy’s presence in Indian Ocean.
Ten months ago, the Indian Navy re-oriented its fleet pattern to that of a mission-based deployment. The step was taken in view of the increased presence of Chinese naval ships and submarines in the Indian Ocean Region.
Chinese have added 80 new ships in the last 5 years.
“I admit geographically speaking India has a special role to play in stabilizing Indian Ocean and the South Asian region,” said Senior Captain Zhao Yi, Associate Professor of the Institute of Strategy in China’s National Defense University replying to a question on rising concerns in India over the Chinese navy’s increasing forays into the Indian Ocean.
“Since 2008, there has been a permanent presence of the Chinese Navy in the Indian Ocean region in the form of anti-piracy escort force,” said the Indian Navy chief, said the Indian Navy chief.
Chinese navy’s increasing presence in the Indian Ocean comes in the background of the release of a White Paper published by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) recently, outlining a new military strategy enhancing its navy’s duties for the first time to “open seas protection” far from its shores.
More Chinese ships are crossing the Indian Ocean as it has become a major pipeline for trade for China, she said.
Also, Chinese navy’s presence there is to protect the security of sea lines specially against piracy. The PLA navy provided escort services to over 6,000 ships in Gulf of Aden half of them were foreign vessels, Zhang said.
“So, I do not agree that the presence of Chinese naval ship is expansion of the Chinese military,” Zhang said.
Lanba noted that China in December 2018 sent its 31st fleet for anti-piracy escort force in the Gulf of Aden. He pointed out that China had set up an overseas military facility in Djibouti two years back, with the stated objective of safeguarding its vessels from piracy in the region.
He said that China had even “deployed submarines for anti-piracy operations” although submarines were the “most unlikely platform to be used for this role (anti-piracy operations)”.
“There is no doubt they are spending a huge sum of money to develop military capabilities. They are modernizing the forces, they are modernizing command structure,” said the Chief of naval Staff.