The Indian Navy today tweeted pictures of three warships of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (Navy) entering the Indian Ocean through the straits of Ombai Wetar, the narrow stretch of water between of Indonesia in the North and East Timor in the south.
The somewhat unusual tweet of the Indian Navy said, “Extend a warm welcome to the 29th Anti-Piracy Escort Force (APEF) of PLA(N) in Indian Ocean Region (IOR) Happy Hunting.”
These are considered as normal greetings in high-seas but the tweet made it amply clear that they were messages directed towards Beijing.
In no uncertain terms, the tweets may be intended to tell Beijing that the Indian Navy has the ability to monitor the vast stretch of waters round the clock. And, more importantly, it is tacit but a firm message about who dominates the Indian Ocean Region (IOR).
The Chinese flotilla is deployed in the Gulf for anti-piracy operations. Using piracy in high-seas as pretext China sends warships and even nuclear-powered submarines capable of launching nuclear warheads that pass through the Indian Ocean Region.
Last year saw the highest deployment of Chinese warships in the Indian Ocean Region. India picked up as many as 14 warships and submarines crisscrossing the region in 2017.
As Chinese activity increased in the IOR, India too changed track and decided to permanently deploy warships to watch every important ingress and entry point into the IOR. Indian warships are now deployed all important Malacca, Sunda and Lombok Straits in the far East, the Gulf of Aden in the North and Madagascar Strait in the South through the year.
It is through these deployments and the use of US-made P8i, Long Range Maritime Surveillance Aircraft, that India has been picking up every move of the PLA(N).
The Indian Navy has made it a target to ensure its dominance in the Indian Ocean by 2020. The growing foot-print of Navy ensures that complete awareness of the IOR
China is dependent on sea-lanes and straits like the Malacca Strait for an unhindered supply of fuel and trade. Almost 70 per cent of worlds trade by volume passes through the IOR and the straits like Malacca, Sunda and Lombok.