"Chinese naval deployments to the Indian Ocean decreased in 2015 as China focused on other areas, such as the South China Sea. However, since 2016, China has re-emphasized its deployments here, specifically to protect its commercial interests and possibly to build relations with states like Pakistan and Bangladesh," according to consultancy firm IHS Markit.
Bangladesh Navy had announced in November that it will receive two Chinese submarines by March 2017. The announcement has created furor in the Indian establishment and it rushed Manohar Parrikar, Indian Defense Minister, to Dhaka in the end of November. Despite making efforts to increase defense cooperation with Bangladesh, New Delhi has not elicited reciprocation from Dhaka. China has also enhanced its presence off the western coast of India by sending submarines to Gwadar port in Pakistan in mid-November. Pakistan is adding eight Chinese made conventional submarines to its existing fleet of five submarines.
"Smaller navies like Bangladesh and Pakistan are also subject to the dynamics of increased competition between China and India in the Indian Ocean region, and are projected to gradually increase their naval spending from 2017 onwards," said Michele Capeleto, naval analyst at IHS Jane's.
India has announced to revise its plan to induct submarines by 2030. The original blueprint envisages 24 submarines by the year 2030 but the Indian Defense Minister feels a rethinking is in order. However, financial crunch is unlikely provide cushion to Indian Navy to counter deep pocket China in the region. Recent development also forced India to rethink its maritime policy and cooperation with countries like Japan, US and Australia. Indian Navy Chief Admiral Sunil Lanma arrived in Tokyo on a five day long visit. Visit to Japan comes soon after US Vice Admiral Joseph P Aucoin announced in Delhi last week about more complex naval exercise for upcoming ‘Malabar exercise 2017'. India is most likely to invite Australia to join Malabar exercise 2017 which would be focus on anti-submarine warfare.