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May 14, 2013 at 09:15am IST

After Ladakh incursions, China flexes its muscles in Indian Ocean

New Delhi: After incursions in Ladakh, China has now flexed its muscles in the Indian Ocean. The Indian Navy has expressed concern about increasing presence of Chinese navy's submarines and warships in the region.

Defence Minister AK Antony will open the bi-annual Naval Commanders Conference in Delhi on Tuesday. The minister, fresh from flagging off the Navy's first MiG-29K squadron in Goa, is expected to highlight concerns over the increasing Chinese naval activity in the Indian Ocean.

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China's first aircraft carrier - the Liaoning - is expected to begin a long cruise this year and Indian Naval Intelligence says there are indications China is looking for bases to sustain a permanent naval presence in the Indian Ocean.

Gwadar base in Pakistan's Balochistan province recently had its depth dredged to 14 metres to allow aircraft carriers and submarines to dock and there is speculation that Sri Lanka may grant port facilities to Chinese ships at Hambantota port.

China is also known to be interested in establishing a naval presence in the Maldives and Chinese companies have won a contract to build the biggest port in Africa at Bagamoyo in north-east Tanzania.

The Navy has been concerned over the increasing presence of Chinese Navy's submarines and other warships in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR). In a recent report submitted to the Defence Ministry, the Integrated Defence Staff headquarters had informed the Government quoting the data by American agencies that 22 encounters of Chinese submarines have taken place outside its territorial waters in the IOR.

The top brass of the force is also expected to discuss the delay in the induction of the aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya, which is being retrofitted in Russia and has been delayed due to mishaps in its boiler.

With Additional Inputs from PTI