Chinese trawlers sighted in Indian Ocean: Official
The Indian Navy sighted large Chinese fishing trawlers, escorted by People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) warships, in the western Indian Ocean in early January, two senior officials said on Tuesday asking not to be named.
The Chinese distant water fishing fleet was not in the Indian exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and was believed to be sailing towards Morocco on the western coast of Africa, said the first official cited above.
“The North African country and China have intensified cooperation in the fisheries sector, with Morocco giving more access rights to Chinese vessels,” said the second official, adding that the navy was closely monitoring China’s footprint in the Indian Ocean region.
In September 2019, a Chinese vessel that had intruded into Indian waters near the Andaman & Nicobar islands was driven away because it was not supposed to be there. The Chinese research vessel, Shi Yan 1, was spotted near Port Blair and was suspected to be carrying out an ocean survey in India’s EEZ. Every coastal country’s EEZ extends to 200 nautical miles (about 370 km) from its shores and it has exclusive rights to all resources in those waters including oil, natural gas and fish.
Amid growing sightings of Chinese naval assets in the Indian Ocean region, the Indian Navy in 2017 recalibrated its deployment to position mission-ready warships and aircraft along critical sea lanes of communications and choke points.
India has also upgraded its capabilities to keep a watch on the strategically important Indian Ocean Region and deliver an offensive option swiftly, if necessary, with the Indian Air Force basing its front-line Sukhoi-30 fighters in southern India for the first time. The IAF raised a new squadron of Su-30 MKI fighter jets at the Thanjavur air force station in Tamil Nadu on January 20.