Assuring that it has the capability of thwarting any threat; Indian Navy Chief Admiral Karambir Singh has said India is keenly watching China’s growing presence in the Indian Ocean region (IOR).
Addressing the media at the annual press conference ahead of the Navy Day celebrations on Wednesday, Singh said that "China has increased presence in the Indian Ocean since 2008. We are keenly watching them."
Responding to a question related to the presence of the Chinese boats in the Indian waters, he said "On an average seven to eight vessels are present near the exclusive economic zone (EEZ). Recently there were Chinese oceanographic research vessels in the EEZ and they are there sometimes to carry out mining, and at times as anti-piracy squad."
"If you have to work in our EEZ then you have to take our permission," he said. The Chinese ship Shi Yan I sailed away from the Indian EEZ after the Navy's warning when it was found in the Indian waters near Port Blair, Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
Adding that the Indian Navy carries out whatever prompt action is needed, the chief stressed that the Navy is fully aware of Pakistan’s intention in the IOR.
To a question on why the Chinese Navy has not been invited to MILAN 2020, according to him "only like-minded nations" are invited for the biggest international exercise. Almost 41 countries including the ASEAN members, US, UK, Gulf countries as well Iran, Egypt, Australia, France have been invited for the multilateral exercise off Visakhapatnam.
China, like India, is also part of the international effort to check sea piracy in the Gulf of Aden and both the countries are engaged in anti-piracy operations. According to the chief China had joined the anti-piracy operations in 2008, and since then has gradually increased its presence in the region.
According to sources China has not been invited for the mega exercise as it did not want to give legitimacy to its presence in the Indian Ocean Region as it could later claim that it has participated in exercises in the region.
Given the magnitude of the exercise the venue has been shifted to Visakhapatnam, as the eastern seaboard will provide more space and depth as compared to seas off Port Blair.
In an effort to prevent a repeat of 26/11 Mumbai terror attack, the Navy along with the Coast Guard and the Marine police of littoral states and other stakeholders had held exercise Sea Vigil to test the efficacy of the systems.
According to the chief, the Ministry of Defence has now institutionalised it and to check the operational preparedness of the agencies guarding the 7,000 km long coastline, such an exercise will be conducted every two years.