India to send ships to South China Sea, in support of friendly nations
- India has decided to send a naval task force to the South China Sea
- The development signals India's intent to play a bigger role in regional efforts to counter China
- It also displays India's growing bonhomie with the United States.
In a move that may not go down well with China, India has decided to send a naval task force to the South China Sea this month, reports Reuters. The development not only signals India's intent to play a bigger role in regional efforts to counter China, but also displays a growing bonhomie with the United States.
"The deployment of the Indian Navy ships seeks to underscore the operational reach, peaceful presence and solidarity with friendly countries towards ensuring good order in the maritime domain..." the Navy said, reports the news agency
Four ships, including a guided missile destroyer and a missile frigate will be deployed for a two-month period to southeast Asia, the South China Sea and the western Pacific, the Navy said in a statement.
"These maritime initiatives enhance synergy and coordination between the Indian Navy and friendly countries, based on common maritime interests and commitment towards Freedom of Navigation at sea," the Indian Navy said in its statement.
During the deployment, the Indian ships will take part in annual joint war drills involving the United States, Japan and Australia off the coast of Guam, the navy said. The four countries make up an informal group, that the US is promoting to counter China.
The Indian military has traditionally been wary of antagonising China but the mood has significantly changed after the violent clashes in Galwan valley that left 20 Indian soldiers dead.
In February, China officially acknowledged that five Chinese military officers and soldiers were killed in the clashes with the Indian Army though it is widely believed that the death toll was higher.
The tension between the two countries have persisted since despite several rounds of talks and many deescalation announcements.
The two countries recently held the 12th round of military talks and agreed to resolve pending issues. However, friction points along the border like Hot Springs and Gogra remain unresolved.