India keeping a close watch on China’s activities in Indian Ocean, says Indian Navy Chief, Admiral Sunil Lanba

New Delhi: ‘China is becoming more aggressive in the Indian Ocean region and always has six to eight warships deployed in the region. But, the Indian navy is keeping a close watch on these Chinese movements,’ clarified the Navy Chief, Admiral Sunil Lamba. India is soon organising marine military exercises involving 16 countries in the Indian Ocean region. But, Maldives which is currently under the Chinese influence has refused to participate. In view of this, the Naval Chief had a dialogue with the media.

Admiral-Sunil-LambaNavy Chief Admiral Lamba apprised the media about the ‘Milan’ naval exercise to be conducted near the Andaman and Nicobar Islands between 6th to 13th of March. At this time, he informed that Maldives has refused to participate in the exercises. Maldives has not given any reasons for their non-participation. But, Admiral Lamba said that this could be due to the emergency situation in that country.

He also answered questions from the media about the Chinese movements in the Indian Ocean. China started deploying their warships in the Indian Ocean since the year 2008. India is keenly watching these Chinese movements. The naval chief assured that there is no reason to worry about this.

Meanwhile, experts are making claims that China is behind the withdrawal of Maldives from the ‘Milan’ naval exercise. Maldives President Abdulla Yameen is a Chinese supporter and he has taken some objectionable decisions against the national interest. Yameen government has opened up a few ports to China and China has made preparations to develop military infrastructure there. There are concerns that China may use these as military bases in the future.

There were reports that China was building its marine surveillance station in Maldives. The opposition in Maldives had demanded that India should militarily intervene, after President Yameen declared a state of emergency. China had given a severe reaction and had warned that if India intervened, China will not hold back.

Against this background, the experts claim that China, disturbed by ‘Milan’ naval exercise, may have asked Maldives to withdraw.

Australia, New Zealand, Vietnam, Philippines, Malaysia, Mauritius, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Indonesia and Thailand are participating in the ‘Milan’ naval exercise. This exercise is organised every two years. In 1995, this exercise was organised for the first time, with participation from only 5 countries. With the ‘Act East’ policy adopted by India, there is increased co-operation between the South-East and East Asian countries and it is apparent that the naval co-operation with these countries has also improved.

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