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Regular Chinese Navy presence in Indian Ocean Region over past decade: Navy Chief

Karambir Singh said China looks west for its energy, markets and resources and hence “it won’t be surprising that soon they would be coming into the Indian Ocean Region” because “flag follows trade”.

Written by Krishn Kaushik | New Delhi |
Updated: April 15, 2021 12:24:16 pm
Navy Chief Admiral Karambir Singh

Navy Chief Admiral Karambir Singh said on Wednesday that India has observed regular presence of Chinese Navy in the Indian Ocean Region over the past decade.

Speaking at the Raisina Dialogue, Singh said, “As far as if they will move in the Indian Ocean Region, we have seen a regular Chinese naval presence in the Indian Ocean Region for over a decade now.”

He said China looks west for its energy, markets and resources, “so it won’t be surprising that soon they would be coming into the Indian Ocean Region”, because “flag follows trade”.

On the development of China’s navy and a third aircraft carrier, Singh said, “We are not surprised by the pace of Chinese Navy development. They have their wherewithal, they have the intent.”

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He said China has a fleet of support ships to accompany its aircraft carriers. “The point is very clear that their intention is to replicate something of the Carrier Battle Groups that US Navy has. They have nearly all the components in place,” he said. However, he said, “the most important thing that they will have to develop is the competence and capability of their carrier air wing, which takes time”.

US Navy has been operating carriers since the World War, while India too has had it for 60 years. “But I think the Chinese are moving quickly,” Singh said.

Admiral Phillip Davidson, commander of US Navy’s Indo-Pacific Command, who was also part of the discussion, said, “Our relationship with India remains one of Indo-Pacific Command’s highest priority.” He called India a “vital partner in strengthening the security and stability” in the region. “A strong US-India strategic partnership is indispensable for peace, prosperity and security in the Indo-Pacific,” he said.

Speaking about China, Davidson said the Communist Part of China promotes a “drastically different system” for governance, trade and human rights, and “China’s approach to the region includes efforts to coerce, corrupt and co-opt governments, businesses, organisation and ultimately the people of the Indo-Pacific”. “An emboldened Communist Party of China seeks to exploit the current global pandemic with increased military aggression throughout the Indo-Pacific,” he said.

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