New Delhi: In a powerful show of unity, four top-ranking naval officers of India, the US, Japan and Australia — seen as the proposed “quadrilateral” — shared the stage at the Raisina Dialogue conference in the capital, with the Commander of the US Pacific Command Admiral Harry Harris openly calling China a “disruptive transitional force in the Indo-Pacific region”. The top naval officers sharing the stage included Indian Naval chief Admiral Sunil Lanba, the Chief of Staff, Joint Staff, Japan, Admiral Katsutoshi Kawano and Australian Naval chief Vice-Admiral Tim Barrett. Admiral Lanba told the audience that India had been “assured” (by Sri Lanka) that it would not allow Chinese naval presence at Hambantota port. “There will be no Chinese naval presence at Hambantota, we have been assured of that,” the Indian naval chief said. India has been especially concerned about the movement of Chinese submarines in the Indian Ocean.
Speaking in another separate session, Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar referred to the “Rise of China” as a “disruption” but said in some ways it was positive, adding that China had been the “motivator” for India in some aspects and had “opened up the international order”. The proposed “Quad” countries have said they are committed to a rules-based order in the Indo-Pacific and have already held consultations with each other. But the move has been seen by observers as an attempt to counter Chinese military assertiveness in the South China Sea and Indian Ocean.
The session attended by top naval officers of the four countries was on the subject “Unchartered waters: In search for order in the Indo-Pacific”.
Audience member accuses India of ‘terror’; shocks other guests
A young British woman of Pakistani origin left the audience and delegates at the prestigious Raisina Dialogue conference in the capital shocked when she accused India of carrying out state-sponsored terrorism in Pakistan’s restive Balochistan province and also engaging in human rights violations in Kashmir. Foreign secretary S. Jaishankar, present on the dais, was however cool and unflappable, and replied to her accusations, saying he had been asked to “stick to facts and not fantasies”. The woman, a delegate at the conference, told this newspaper later that she was a lawyer practising in London and that one of her parents is Pakistani while the other is Indian.