China has invited the Indian Navy to take part in an international fleet review being staged by it in waters off Qingdao in the Shandong province next year. The invite comes at a time when the Chinese navy is taking steady strides to expand in the Indian Ocean Region.
The Indian Navy is expected to send some of its frontline warships for the review being held from April 21-24, even as New Delhi closely monitors the progress made by China to have a credible sea-based deterrence.
China’s newest submarine-launched ballistic missile Julang-2, to be deployed on the Jin-class submarines, is expected to attain operational capability next year.
India had for the first time taken part in a fleet review hosted by China four years ago to mark the 60th anniversary of the Chinese navy. But the countries have been squabbling over energy exploration in the resource-rich South China Sea over the last few years.
Navy chief Admiral DK Joshi had last year declared India was prepared to counter any aggression in the disputed South China Sea to guard the country’s interests, sparking sharp reactions from the Communist neighbour.
The oil blocks allotted to India for exploration lie in Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone, but China claims the maritime zone as its own.