Indian naval ships in South China Sea make Beijing see red
New Delhi: Much to the ire of China, four Indian Naval warships entered the disputed South China Sea on Saturday on an operational deployment for two and half months there and in the North West Pacific. During the period, they would also participate in the prestigious maritime exercise with the US and Japan navies, Malabar- 2016.
China claims to have territorial ownership in the South China Sea, but Vietnam, Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan dispute the claim. The area is accepted as International waters by several countries.
Though movements of Indian ships through these waters have been challenged by Chinese Navy in the past, it has not flared up to a direct physical confrontation ever.
Indigenously- built guided missile stealth frigates, Indian Navy ships Satpura and Sahyadri, commanded by Captain AN Pramod and Captain KS Rajkumar respectively, INS Shakti, a sophisticated fleet support ship, commanded by Captain Gagan Kaushal and INS Kirch an indigenous guided missile corvette commanded by Commander Sharad Sinsunwal are participating in this deployment.
Even as China has reportedly expressed concern over this, the deployment also comes close on the heels of the US and India holding their first Maritime Security Dialogue on May 16 to discuss “Asia- Pacific maritime challenges, naval cooperation, and multilateral engagement”, according to the US embassy in New Delhi. US too has taken objections on what it has called China’s increasing ‘ militarisation’ in the region.
During this overseas deployment, the Indian ships will make port calls at Cam Rahn Bay ( Vietnam), Subic Bay ( Philippines), Sasebo ( Japan), Busan ( South Korea), Vladivostok ( Russia) and Port Klang ( Malaysia), Indian Navy spokesperson Captain DK Sharma said. He said the visits to each port will last four days and are aimed at strengthening bilateral ties and enhancing inter- operability between the navies.