Justifying the docking of Chinese submarines in Karachi and Colombo, a Chinese think tank today questioned criticism in India of the presence of Chinese naval ships in the Indian Ocean, saying China has a right to protect its interests and India should be “broad-minded” to accept it.
“But even if Chinese naval ships and submarines appear regularly in the Indian Ocean, so what?,” an article in the state-run China Daily questioning the criticism of Chinese vessels in the Indian Ocean said.
Written by Zhou Do, an honorary fellow with Centre for China American Defence Relations of Beijing-based Academy of Military Science, the article said, “India, like China, is growing with strength. If growth of strength indeed brings confidence, a stronger India should be broad-minded. The Chinese naval vessels in the international waters of the Indian Ocean should not be taken as a threat.”
“If the Pacific Ocean is big enough to accommodate China and the US, so is the Indian Ocean to accommodate India and China,” it said.
“As one of the largest oil importers itself, India should have better understanding of China’s energy needs and concerns over the sea lane in the Indian Ocean.
“Four-fifths of China’s oil imports pass through the area. India alone cannot assure the security of the Indian Ocean, even if it regards the Indian Ocean as its backyard and wishes no one to compete with it there. This is why counter-piracy has involved navies from more than 20 countries, including China and India,” it said.
“China is not jostling with India for strategic influence in the Indian Ocean. The likelihood of a naval clash between the two navies in the Indian Ocean, as some Indian strategists have suggested, cannot be more hypothetical.
“If there can not be an all-out war between China and India, how can the Chinese and Indian navies have war at sea? And if the disputed border has remained peaceful for more than half a century, how can anyone prove that the two countries are going to have a war at all?,” it said.
Earlier this month, senior Chinese defence experts said that China recognises India’s special role in stabilising the strategic Indian Ocean region but the perception that it is India’s “backyard” may result in clashes.
“The word backyard is not very appropriate to use for an open sea and international areas of sea,” Senior Captain Zhao Yi, Associate Professor of the Institute of Strategy in China’s National Defence University, said.
“I admit geographically speaking India has a special role to play in stabilising Indian Ocean and the South Asian region,” he said while replying to a question on rising concerns in India over the Chinese navy’s increasing forays into the Indian Ocean.
Zhao said though he did not agree with an American scholar who had predicted that Indian Ocean could be the focus of 21st century and as a result severe clashes could breakout, he said such a possibility cannot be “eliminated” if the Indian Ocean is continued to be perceived as India’s backyard. (Economic Times)