Chinese submarine deployments in Indian Ocean is 'legitimate', says People's Liberation Army

PLA Navy Yuan-class submarines last year made first-ever port call to Karachi and also stopping in Colombo.

Chinese submarine deployments in Indian Ocean is 'legitimate', says People's Liberation Army
Representational image - File photo

Delhi: China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) said on Thursday that crossings of its submarines across the Indian Ocean were 'legitimate'.

When asked about India's concerns, PLA senior Colonel Yang Yujun, spokesperson for the Ministry of National Defence, said that the submarine deployments followed international practice.

"Talking about the submarines, the Chinese submarines cross some of sea areas and those crossings are legitimate and legal and follow the international practices," China's defence Ministry spokesman Yang Yujun said during a media interaction here, when asked about the movement of Chinese submarines in the Indian Ocean area which has raised India's concerns.

Asked if the movement of Chinese submarines in the Indian Ocean is legitimate then why China considers Indian naval ships presence as 'wrong', Yang said China has never taken such a stand.

"I want to point out one thing. You said when the Indian ships enter the SCS (we are saying) it is wrong. Where did you hear that. I am from the Ministry of Defence and I have never said that," he said, as per PTI.

"If it is done in accordance with the international law and as freedom of navigation, that should be lawful. Such movement should be helpful for country-to-country relations and for peace and stability in the region. All those kind of moves should be welcomed," he said.

Yang said that India and China were working well together in the Indian Ocean Region, as evident in the way both countries have closely coordinated anti-piracy escort missions in the Gulf of Aden.

"Since 2008, China's navy has sent over 23 fleets to the Gulf of Aden and Somalia for escort missions and provided more than 6,000 services. We have cooperated well with the Indian Navy," he said.

China claims almost all of South China Sea which is disputed by the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan.

A UN tribunal is set to deliver its verdict on the Philippines' petition challenging China's claims on July 12. Beijing which boycotted its proceedings said it will not honour the judgment.

While asserting its claims on the SCS, China has been saying that it never obstructed freedom of navigation, which India, US and other international community have been emphasising as it is the busiest commercial shipping route.

But at the same time, China raised vociferous objections to US naval ships in the area especially in the waters close to artificial islands built by it.

India has been closely Chinese submarine deployments in the neighbourhood.

The PLA Navy Yuan-class submarines last year made first-ever port call to Karachi and also stopping in Colombo.

In May this year, four ships of the Indian Navy set out for a two and a half month long operational deployment to the South China Sea and North Western Pacific.

Indian naval ships also took part in the Malabar exercises along with Japanese and US naval vessels in the western Pacific recently.

China has, however, objected to India taking part in the oil exploration at the invitation of Vietnam saying it is disputed territory.