It’s good to see the Indian Navy has a sense of humour. Through two posts on Twitter on Tuesday, the Navy welcomed the arrival in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) of ships of its Chinese counterpart sailing on an anti-piracy mission. The Chinese Navy is part of an international effort to deal with piracy off the Somali coast.
The intent of our sea warriors was to let the Chinese know we keep a close watch over their movements. A fleet of 50 warships of different descriptions is deployed in mission mode from the Malacca Straits to the Persian Gulf, sea lanes through which 70 per cent of world trade in hydrocarbons passes, to cover Chinese naval movements.
The Chinese now sail around a dozen naval vessels in the IOR, and sometimes give their nuclear submarines an outing in these waters. They could step this up, then the joke might be on us.
Remember, our budgetary support for defence has fallen while China’s has risen significantly. More, they have got naval basing facilities in Djibouti on the Horn of Africa and are not far from getting ready Gwadar base in Pakistan. That will give the Chinese Navy a lot of heft in IOR. We have also let go any goodwill we had with Maldives, where the Chinese plan to open an observation post.
China’s economy is three times ours in size, and its military spending keeps pace. The Indian Navy needs more versatile platforms in IOR and the capacity to show the flag in the South China Sea. Prowess must be for real. Let’s not just be Twitter warriors.