Chinese warship to anchor at Indian port


New Delhi, Aug 6 (IANS) A Chinese warship will make a “port call” at Kochi on the western coast Aug 8-12, reflecting China’s increasing interest in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR), said an official.
The Chinese guided-missile destroyer Shenzhen will visit Kochi after completing its anti-piracy mission in the Gulf of Aden.

“The warship will be making a port call at Kochi. Indian warships have also made port calls at Chinese ports earlier and it is the sign of enhanced engagement between the two navies,” a senior Indian Navy official said, requesting anonymity.

The official refused to give further information about the port call.

The Chinese warship had earlier docked at an Indian port in 2005 when it took part in an exercise with the Indian Navy.

Indian and Chinese navies have been striving to increase their established influence sphere in the IOR to secure their respective energy supply routes.

China has been pursuing its policy of “strings and pearls” to encircle India by acquiring stakes in ports in Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Bangladesh. The Indian Navy, on the other hand, is banking on its soft power and has been engaging with nations in the IOR, the official said.

Acting on an SOS sent by Seychelles on rising piracy incidents near its coast, for instance, the Indian Navy sent a warship to patrol the area. This came at a time when its warships from its eastern fleet were off to participate in the International Fleet Review hosted by China and also for the first time to the Atlantic Ocean to participate in naval exercises with British and French navies.

The Indian Navy has also been working towards capacity building of nations in the IOR.

When the Indian Navy sent its ships to patrol the piracy-infested Gulf of Aden to check the increasing menace of the sea bandits, the Chinese navy followed suit by dispatching its destroyer Shenzen.

Even though the Chinese warship did not engage in direct confrontation with the pirates as done by the Indian Navy, it did impress the world by the endurance and reach of its vessel.

“The endurance of the Chinese warship in the Gulf of Aden has been amazing. It has been able to sustain itself for longer duration without making a port call to replenish its supplies,” said another Indian Navy official, wishing to remain anonymous.

While the Chinese navy has an edge over Indian Navy in terms of quantity, qualitative improvements are also perceptible. This was evident during the International Fleet Review it hosted earlier this year, he said.