Navy’s Milan drill worries China | india | Hindustan Times
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Navy’s Milan drill worries China

The biggest ever naval build-up in the Bay of Bengal and Andaman Sea — under the ongoing Indian Navy-led Milan multilateral exercises — is believed to have fed China’s concerns.

india Updated: Feb 06, 2010 00:15 IST
Rahul Singh

The biggest ever naval build-up in the Bay of Bengal and Andaman Sea — under the ongoing Indian Navy-led Milan multilateral exercises — is believed to have fed China’s concerns. At least three nations taking part in these maneouvres and China have overlapping sovereignty claims to Spratly islands in the South China Sea.

The Philippines, Vietnam and Malaysia, among the 12 participating countries, are competing with China to grab their share of oil and natural gas reserves in the Spratly region.

Senior navy officials said the People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) could be monitoring the six-day exercise.

Vice Admiral D.K. Joshi, Commander-in-Chief, Andaman and Nicobar Command, India’s only tri-service command, told HT, “China would be monitoring what's happening here. But Milan is a non-military forum. It’s more of a socio-cultural engagement."

Navy Chief Admiral Nirmal Verma stressed that China had nothing to be suspicious about. “Some nations taking part in the exercises may be having problems of maritime claims with another country (China). But Milan has a different theme. It does not seek to create a security bloc.”

Beijing has always been suspicious of naval alliances — especially those involving India — in the Indian Ocean where the PLAN wants more influence. China accused India, US, Japan and Australia of ganging up against it when the four navies came together in 2007 as part of the Malabar series of exercises.

Strategic affairs expert Commodore Uday Bhaskar (retd) told HT from New Delhi, “If I were a Chinese admiral, I would be watching exercises such as Milan very carefully. India and China need to engage each other more to lessen the chances of any misunderstanding.”