by Pradip R Sagar

The Indian establishment is surprised with the panicked over-reaction by the Australian media over Chinese warships being spotted in the east of Indian Ocean, close to Maldives waters. Indian Navy has also denied reports of deploying its ships to monitor the development, as its eight ships are already on mission deployment.

Quoting Chinese website, Australian media has called the deployment of 11 Chinese warships close to Maldives waters, which is in political turmoil, a significant shift in regional power. Deployment happened last month, when Chinese naval task force had entered the Indian Ocean from the Sunda Strait for exercises in international waters closer to Australia and has since left via the Lombok Strait.

Reacting sharply on the development, sources in the South Block in New Delhi said that no movement of Chinese ships was detected near the Maldivian waters. In fact, closest Chinese warships came to 2,500 nautical miles away from Maldives.

“We (Indian Navy) have a robust maritime domain awareness and are well versed with the ongoing developments in the Indian Ocean Region,”said a senior Indian navy officer.

According to officials tracking the developments, PLA Navy warships, including its frigates, amphibious ships and a fleet of support tankers are part of its anti-piracy mission, along with its deployment in the western Africa, which already concluded in late January.