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Admiral Harry B Harris, Commander of the United States Pacific Command, Wednesday said that US and Indian navies have been sharing information on the movement of Chinese submarines and ships in the Indian Ocean. He also said India should be concerned about the increasing Chinese influence in the region.
“There is sharing of information regarding Chinese maritime movement in the Indian Ocean,” Admiral Harris said. The US, he said, works “closely with India and with improving India’s capability to do that kind of surveillance. Malabar exercise… helps us hone our ability to track what China is doing in the Indian Ocean. Chinese submarines are clearly an issue and we know they are operating through the region.”
Responding to a question from The Indian Express, the Commander said, “India should be concerned about the increasing Chinese influence in the region. If you believe that there is only finite influence, then whatever influence China has means that influence India does not have.”
Although Pakistan does not fall under the jurisdiction of the Pacific Command, Admiral Harris said, “The relationship between China and Pakistan is of concern, and in my discussions with my Indian counterparts, they are clearly concerned about that. I believe that China’s relations with Bangladesh is of some concern… India views China correctly and we share the same view of China and I think we are in a good place.”
Highlighting the signing of military logistics agreement between the two countries last year after a decade, he expected that the two pending foundational agreements, the Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) — formerly known as the Communications and Information Security Memorandum of Agreement (CISMOA) — and Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA) will also be signed but “at a pace India is comfortable with”.
COMCASA allows for secure exchange of communication between the militaries, while BECA is meant to facilitate the sharing of geospatial data. Emphasising their importance, he said that signing the COMCASA will allow the two navies to monitor Chinese submarines even better.
“In tangible terms, the P8 will be able to do more interoperable activities. The P8, as you know, is the world’s best anti-submarine warfare platform. India has the P8-I and we have the P-8A but they are completely uninteroperable because of different communication systems. In order to really maximise the potential of the aeroplane here in the Indian Ocean against those (Chinese) submarines we were talking about, we need to get this agreement through,” Admiral Harris said.