China, Pakistan conduct joint maritime exercises in Arabian Sea. Should India be concerned? | Mint – Mint

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The Chinese and Pakistani navies have initiated a week-long joint exercise, ‘Sea Guardians-3,’ in the northern Arabian Sea. The drills, based at a naval base in Karachi, include anti-submarine aoperations and joint maritime patrols, marking the first collaboration of its kind between the two allies, a Dawn News report cited

The exercises commenced on Saturday and are scheduled to conclude on Friday. 

Commenting on the exercise, China’s Ministry of National Defence’s spokesperson, Senior Colonel Wu Qian, said, “During the exercise, China and Pakistan will conduct joint maritime patrols for the first time.”

With the theme of “joint response to maritime security threats”, the exercise will include formation movement, VBSS (visit, board, search and seizure), helicopter cross-deck landing, search and rescue, anti-submarine operations, Wu was quoted as saying by China Military News website.

“This is the third time for China and Pakistan to hold such an exercise, aiming to consolidate the all-weather strategic partnership and traditional friendship between the two countries, and strengthen realistic combat training of the two militaries,” the Chinese military spokesperson added.

What does it mean for India?

NDTV report, meanwhile, said this is believed to be the eighth time since the Chinese PLAN (People’s Liberation Army Navy) deployed a submarine in the region since 2013.

Former Navy chief Admiral Arun Prakash (retd) told NDTV, “Our planners and decision-makers have to squarely face the fact that the Chinese have vital interests in the Indian Ocean – specifically its sea lanes which carry most of China’s energy, trade, raw materials and finished goods. Consequently, we are going to see the increasing presence of PLA Navy (PLAN) in the Indian Ocean; warships as well as submarines. Neither their presence on the high seas, nor their putting into (friendly) ports is something that we can take exception to.” 

He explained further, over the last two decades, China has strategically established a “string of pearls” in the Indian Ocean region—a network of ports financed by China for potential use by the PLA Navy.

“In 2016, China established its first overseas military base in Djibouti, and more will follow – perhaps in Africa.” 

Navy Chief Admiral R Hari Kumar, earlier this year, said that the Indian Navy is alert about the Chinese Naval assets deployment to Pakistani Ports. 

“There is a large presence of Chinese vessels. At any point of time, there are three to six Chinese warships in the India Ocean Region,” he told NDTV.

India closely collaborates with the United States, a key maritime ally, tracking Chinese warship movements. In recent 2+2 talks, both nations emphasized commitment to safeguarding a free, open, and inclusive Indo-Pacific, addressing concerns over China’s Belt and Road Initiative. 


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Updated: 13 Nov 2023, 06:18 PM IST

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