NEW DELHI – While India “worries” about the largest presence of Chinese submarines in the Indian Ocean, Australia emerges as a possible ally for India, according to media.
In addition to the Indian authorities reporting the presence of a Chinese intelligence ship near its coast in November, the country has expressed greater concern about the alleged increase in Chinese submarine patrols in the Andaman Sea in the Indian Ocean.
According to published the portal News.com.au, the intentions of China’s research vessel could be of two categories: military and economic.
In this way, the Chinese could either be conducting operations to search for natural resources or mapping canyons on the seabed for submarines to hide, according to the media.
However, the Andaman Sea is of great importance due to the flow of ships passing by and crossing the Malacca Strait. Thus, much of the Asian trade passes through there, while in case of conflict knowledge of the waters of the region would be vital.
“Our stance has been that if you do anything in our region, you have to notify us or get our permission,” Indian Navy Commander Admiral Karambir Singh said on television about the presence of foreign ships in Indian waters.
According to the Indian official, the Chinese military intelligence ship Shiyan 1 operated in India’s economic zones without her permission.
Indians also report that eight to 10 Chinese ships and submarines visit the region annually, a considerable increase since 2012, the portal reported.
Bases in the Andaman Sea
“The Andaman Sea is slowly but surely becoming (a) most crucial battlefront. While this does not necessarily imply that a clash between the two navies is inevitable, the waters around the Andaman Sea will see the two navies jostling more frequently than in the past,” said Yogesh Joshi, a researcher at the South East Asian Studies Institute in Singapore.
An example of increased tension in the region would be some projects from both India and China.
Beijing has planned to build a port off the coast of Myanmar that will receive exports from China by rail and ship goods across the Indian Ocean, diminishing the importance of the Malacca Strait to China.
In addition, construction work on artificial islands is under development in Sri Lanka and the Maldives, according to the portal.
“China’s economy relies heavily on sea lanes of communication passing through the waterway; it, therefore, fears a situation where hostile powers could interdict these vital economic lifelines,” Joshi explained.
Also according to the media, Beijing has built artificial islands that are supposed to house military bases , which in response would have prompted New Delhi to invest $ 50 billion in infrastructure on its islands in the region, and plan to transfer 32 vessels to the region by 2022.
Cooperation with Australia
“Australia has a highly capable navy, and is committed to upholding a “free and open Indo-Pacific” – a strategic vision shared with India,” defense expert Arzan Tarapore told the portal.
Near the Andaman Sea region, the Australian territories of the Christmas and Keeling Islands allow you to control the strategic straits of Sunda and Lombok.
In this way, overseas territory could be used by Australians in co-operation with India to increase their presence in the eastern Indian Ocean and counterbalance the larger Chinese presence in the region.