In photographs taken by P-8I, an anti-submarine warfare and long-range surveillance aircraft, the warship Chinese Landing Platform Dock Xian-32 was seen crossing through the Southern Indian Ocean before it moved into Sri Lankan waters earlier this month.
“They are being constantly monitored during their presence in the Indian Ocean when they pass closer to Indian exclusive economic zone and territorial waters,” Indian news agency ANI reported, citing an unnamed source.
The sources speculated that the main aim of the Chinese navy appears to be both to project power and to boost China's presence along key trade routes.
#LtGenRanbirSingh, #ArmyCdrNC visited troops deployed at forward locations in #EasternLadakh; reviewed security situation & operational preparedness; complimented all ranks for their tenacity & perseverance in challenging conditions.@adgpi@SpokespersonMoD@PIB_India pic.twitter.com/C2v0VfT2l2— NorthernComd.IA (@NorthernComd_IA) September 16, 2019
The reports of a growing Chinese naval presence in the Indian Ocean come days after the armies of India and China were involved in a skirmish at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) - a demarcation line that separates Indian-controlled territory from Chinese-controlled territory in the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
China opposed New Delhi’s decision to declare Ladakh a separate administrative territory, and has asked India to rethink its decision.
But the Indian Foreign Ministry has said that the change to Ladakh's status would not impact on the Line of Actual Control - a loosely demarcated line that divides the two Asian giants.
Furthering speculation the relations between the two countries have worsened following the Ladakh decision, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi cancelled a visit to New Delhi scheduled for 9 September, where he was supposed to hold special representative-level talks on the boundary question with India’s National Security Advisor Ajit Doval.
Indian Navy Chief Admiral Karambir Singh, in July, said that India is monitoring the progress of the Chinese navy-which has been displaying its assertiveness with the deployment of at least six to eight warships, including submarines, at any given moment.
Since 2018, the India has been operating its warships and other maritime assets under a new strategic plan known as "Mission-Based Deployment" as it seeks to strengthen its dominant regional position amid a growing Chinese naval presence.
And in July, India strengthened its eavesdropping capability with the commissioning of a dedicated spy jet base in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.