No Chinese warship deployed near Maldives waters: Govt sources
No Chinese warship has been deployed close to the waters of the Maldives since political turmoil broke out in the island-nation, and India continues to have a significant presence in critical sea lanes in the Indian Ocean region, government sources said on Tuesday.
They, however, said a Chinese destroyer and a frigate had crossed into the Eastern Indian Ocean through the Sunda Strait and exited the Indian Ocean through the Lombok Strait while heading towards the South China Sea a few days ago.
Sources also rejected media reports quoting Chinese website sina.com.cn that 11 Chinese warships had entered the East Indian Ocean amid the constitutional crisis in the Maldives.
The sources said India currently has a significant naval presence in the Indian Ocean region, adding Indian Navy has deployed one warship each in East of Indonesia, Malacca Strait, Gulf of Oman and Gulf of Aden.
India has also deployed a warship next to the waters of Sri Lanka, another one between Bangladesh and Myanmar and one between the Seychelles and Mauritius.
Currently India has two Advanced Light Helicopters (ALH) in the Maldives and around 40 personnel from the Indian armed forces are stationed at the island nation as part of defence cooperation between the two countries.
“We have a very robust surveillance mechanism at the Indian Ocean Region based on deployment since July 2017. No movement of Chinese warship has been detected near the waters of Maldives,” said a source in the Indian Navy.
It said currently, the closest distance between a Chinese warship and Maldivian waters would be around 2,500 nautical miles.
Last year, the Navy had introduced a new plan for deployment of warships in the Indian Ocean region to effectively counter China’s growing presence in the strategically key waters.
A state of emergency was declared in the Maldives earlier this month, deepening an ongoing political crisis there.