China stages rare mid-sea drills in eastern Indian Ocean


Amid attention on the political crisis in the Maldives, China PLA Navy has held rare exercises in the Indian Ocean until mid-February, which the Indian Navy closely monitored.

The PLA Navy has been a regular presence of late on anti-piracy patrols, but this month, the Navy has held rare mid-sea drills.

The exercises started late January, shortly before the Yameen government on February 5 imposed an emergency, suggesting they were perhaps unrelated.

The drills were in the eastern Indian Ocean and not in the southern Indian ocean and nowhere close to the Maldives. The ships also didn’t move towards the Maldives.

Sources in the Indian security establishment clarified that the Chinese Naval exercise was in International waters.

The Indian Navy Spokesperson Captain DK Sharma told India Today, “India has very robust Maritime Domain Awareness System and we have complete transparency of the entire region.”

Chinese State media said the drills lasted till mid-February, focusing on rescue and relief, mid-sea replenishment drills. The vessels involved were the Jinggangshan (amphibious transport dock), Changsha (type 52D destroyer), Luomahu (replenishment ship) and Hengyang (type 54 frigate).

The Chinese flotilla entered Indian Ocean region in January through the Sunda Strait, shortly after completing drills in the South China Sea. The flotilla held the position for a few days and then moved towards Eastern Indian Ocean Region – nearing Australia – and then moved back towards South China Sea Sea using Lombok Strait.

This deployment of the Chinese Navy was an exercise in the International Waters in the last week January. And, most importantly they were monitored by the Indian Navy using through Satellites and Long Range Maritime Surveillance platforms.

There are also, at any given time, at least 8-10 Indian Capital warships spread across the choke points of Indian Ocean Region – Malacca and Sunnda in Eastern Indian Ocean, Gulf of Oman and Gulf of Aden and the Persian Gulf, Madagascar, Maldives and Minicoy, Sri-Lanka and between Bangladesh and Myanmar.

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