Labeling India as a “useful pawn” of the US, military experts in China have warned New Delhi the deployment of its warships in the South China Sea will bear serious repercussions including the expulsion of its warships.
While speaking to Global Times, a daily newspaper under the auspices of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), a Beijing-based naval expert, Li Jie spoke about the recent deployment of Indian Navy warships in the region and said that the PLA will be keeping track of the developments and might even resort to “expel it”.
“The possibility that India will escalate adventurous actions in the South China Sea cannot be ruled out. This could entail participating in joint exercises in the South China Sea with the US. India might even send an aircraft carrier to the region in the future. China must first of all express firm opposition to the Indian Navy’s presence in the South China Sea. Both the US and India are extraterritorial powers. Any of their military activities in the South China Sea will jeopardize regional security and stability,”
Secondly, China must closely monitor the Indian warships, judge the actions it might take and track it. If the Indian vessel takes any actions to undermine China’s maritime rights or challenge China’s territorial sovereignty, China must expel it or even resort to reasonable collisions. Should the Indian warship further escalate actions, China will have to make contingency plans and deal with it effectively.”
In what was a remarkable counter-move to the Galwan valley clash between the two nations, the Indian Navy quietly deployed its frontline warships around the Malacca Straits near the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, a route taken by Chinese vessels to enter the Indian Ocean – to effectively check the movement of Chinese warships, submarines or vessels trying to do any misadventure in the area or threaten India’s assets.
The move, which threatens to block crucial straits of Malacca and of PLA Navy’s misadventures, has been a major success for the Indian Government, which had the desired effects of deterrence and equality while negotiating with the People’s Republic of China via diplomatic channels.
“Soon after the Galwan clash broke out in which 20 of our soldiers were killed, the Indian Navy deployed one of its frontline warships to the South China Sea where the People’s Liberation Army’s Navy objects to the presence of any other force claiming the majority of the waters as part of its territory,” government sources told ANI.
The Indian Navy warship sailed just after the Galwan clashes while avoiding the public eye, which had the desired effect during the India-China diplomatic talks to ease tensions in Ladakh.
“The immediate deployment of the Indian Navy warship in the South China Sea had a desired effect on the Chinese Navy and security establishment as they complained to the Indian side about the Indian warship’s presence there during the diplomatic level talks with the Indian side,” ANI reported quoting its sources.
The Indian warship has also been constantly maintaining contact with its American counterparts over secure communication systems. The U.S. Navy plays a major role in maintaining peace in the region and has deployed its aircraft carriers and warships to deter the PLA Navy’s misadventures in the sea.
But Li believes that India’s naval capabilities are dwarfed by that of China and that New Delhi is only acting like a “fox assuming the majesty of a tiger” with the support of the United States.
“India should have a clear estimation of itself. India’s strength and capabilities at sea are dwarfed by those of China’s. But as the US intensifies its containment on China and promotes the Indo-Pacific Strategy, India has acted like a fox assuming the majesty of the tiger. New Delhi hopes to rely on US power to exert pressure on China, and it has now actively cooperated with the US Indo-Pacific strategy in order to convince the US that it’s a useful pawn that can cause trouble for China.”
The Chinese have been objecting to the Indian Navy’s presence in the South China Sea since 2009, a region which remains hotly contested and where tensions have escalated to dangerous levels recently.
According to the reports, the Indian warship is being constantly updated about the status of the movement of military vessels of other countries there; they said adding that the entire mission was carried out in a very hush-hush manner to avoid any public glare on the Navy’s activities.
But according to a Beijing Foreign Studies University Senior Research Associate, Long Xingchun, India will not be able to bear the consequences if China takes countermeasures along the South China Sea region.
“China doesn’t have to worry a lot but needs to keep vigilant and monitor the Indian warship’s moves. If India sails its warship into China’s 12-nautical mile territorial sea, it would lead to serious results. However, if Indian naval vessels only sail on the high seas, China only needs to keep up stiff surveillance. But if it provocatively sails within 12 nautical miles of China’s South China Sea islands and reefs, I believe China will take countermeasures to safeguard its core interests, and India will not be able to bear the consequences.” said Long
The Indian Navy warships are armed with the BrahMos supersonic anti-ship missile, the world’s deadliest anti-ship missile which poses a major deterrence to the Chinese forces in the area.
Although the deployment of Indian Navy warships in the South China Sea is not new, however, such sort of swift and additional deployment carried out in secrecy has shown the Chinese that the Indian Navy is a force to be reckoned with and shall command the ocean which bears its own name.