16:33 GMT +314 December 2019
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    India Navy's battleship INS Betwa (File)

    Indian Ocean Could Be Heading for ‘Complexities’ if Chinese Presence Not Reduced

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    The Indian Navy plans to soon execute its scheme of “mission-based deployment” involving ships, aircraft and submarines beyond its immediate neighborhood for providing a sustained presence and visibility in the Indian Ocean region.

    New Delhi (Sputnik) — The interpretation of India's two-front war scenario with China and Pakistan is fast changing to "China" (in the north) and "China and Pakistan" (in the west). In this backdrop, New Delhi has expressed deep concern over Chinese projects in its backyard, which include infrastructure development, as well as the development of naval outposts, which India views as an attempt by Beijing to militarize the Indian Ocean region (IOR).

    Nirmala Sitharaman, India's minister of defense, told the Goa Maritime Conclave that the increased presence of Chinese submarines and military bases has created complexities in the region. The three-day Goa Maritime Conclave is being attended by the navies of 10 countries of the IOR, including India, Bangladesh, Indonesia, the Maldives, Malaysia, Mauritius, Myanmar, the Seychelles, Singapore, Sri Lanka and Thailand.

    "We have also witnessed extra-regional nations maintain a near-permanent presence within the region on one pretext or the other. In order to sustain such a presence through an operational turnaround, these countries, which are extra-regional, are creating naval outposts as well as dual-use infrastructure in the region. This sort of militarization increases the complexities for the countries of this region," Sitharaman said at the occasion.

    ​Sitharaman's statement is being viewed in the light of the prevalent situation in the IOR, which has witnessed the deployment of the highest ever number of Chinese submarines this year and the opening up of a Chinese military facility in Djibouti.

    China is also developing the Gwadar port of Pakistan, and India fears that that port would also be put to dual-use by China as a trade route as well as a military base; particularly considering Beijing's maritime interest in securing the sea route from Gwadar and the fact that China has invested more than $45 billion in the development of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

    "One can claim with the considerable assertion that the future of the world will be shaped, to a large extent, by the political and economic interactions between the stakeholders in the IOR," the Indian defense minister cautioned.

    Meanwhile, Admiral Jayanth Colombage, a former Sri Lankan Navy chief, has said that there is an undeclared maritime cold war in the Indian Ocean region. He has also warned that the single worst maritime security threat in the region is maritime blindness. "57 percent of shipping does not report position accurately, 40 percent fishing is illegal," Admiral Jayanth Colombage said.




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