New Delhi: Admitting that recent years have seen a significant rise in presence of Chinese ships and submarines in the Indian Ocean region, Navy Chief Admiral Sunil Lanba assured that every movement is being monitored closely and that India's maritime security is absolutely secure.
In an interview to WION, Admiral Lanba said that the Indian Navy is keeping a close watch on Chinese activities in the Indian Ocean. "Indian Ocean is the only ocean named after a country. We have a great maritime heritage. Chinese ships are in the Indian Ocean since 2008 and they have a lot of ships and submarines deployed here. (But) We are aware of what is happening and last year, we started a new deployment pattern which is mission-based deployment," he said. "We monitor all movements and the Indian Navy is fully capable of ensuring its maritime security."
While China maintains its ships patrol international waters to provide safe passage to its merchant ships, many countries regard an increasing deployment of military vessels as part of China's expansionist policies. India, in particular, is cautious due to reports that China plans to deploy a nuclear submarine at Pakistan's Gwadar port - close to Indian waters. Admiral Lanba though highlighted India's naval co-operation with eastern neighbours as a step in the right direction. "We have been co-operating with our eastern neighbours since the Act East policy was initiated in 2014. We, along with Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam conduct co-ordinated patrol on our maritime borders," he said. "We are also helping them train their personnel."
While India looks to train and assists its smaller eastern neighbours, Admiral Lanba acknowledges that co-operation with major powers like the United States and Japan too is crucial. "Malabar Exercise began in 1993 and it was a joint naval exercise between the US and India. From 1993 till now, the scope and size of the exercise has gone up. Japan has become a permanent member. We learn from each other," said Admiral Lanba, adding that no other country should have a problem with such exercises as they aren't targetted at any country. China, in the past, has hinted at its reservations to the Malabar Exercise.