Admiral Sunil Lanba says, India has been keeping a very close eye on China’s presence in Indian Ocean

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New Delhi: Admiral Sunil Lanba, chief of the naval staff, said that India has been keeping “a very close eye” on China’s presence in the Indian Ocean, whose growth in recent years includes six submarines ostensibly for anti-piracy patrols.

Addressing policy-makers, researchers and officers from the British and Indian navies at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, Lanba said China’s presence in the Indian Ocean is unlikely to go away. He shared the interaction with Admiral Philip Jones, first sea lord and chief of Royal Navy.

“The Chinese presence in the Indian Ocean started in 2008. It has grown over the years. At any given time, there are six to eight Chinese units in the northern part of the Indian Ocean. They are permanently present and they have three to four survey vessels or hydrographic vessels”.

“The largest numbers were about 14 ships which were there in about middle of 2017. They also deployed submarines; there have been total six deployments of submarines, started in 2015…for anti-piracy patrol, which is the most unlikely platform for them to do,” Admiral Lanba added.

Noting that China now has its first overseas base in Djibouti, Admiral Lanba, who is also chairman of the chiefs of staffs committee, said: “We keep a very close eye on their presence and their deployments. I don’t think the Chinese presence in the northern Indian Ocean is going to go away”.

On China’s growing naval infrastructure, Lanba said no country had invested so much as China. In the last five years, China had commissioned 80 new ships, he said, adding: “No nation can match the productivity of their shipyards. So it is a challenge, we keep a close eye”

 

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