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Ashutosh Sheshabalaya On Indian Issues
India'S Naval Capabilities Are Still A Source Of Concern For China
by Ashutosh Sheshabalaya

Published in November 17, 2003 issue of The Financial Times, London.
Sir, The recent Indo-Chinese military thaw (‘Indian flotilla in Shanghai for joint exercises’, FT, November 12), is not driven solely by India’s concerns.

Indeed, one key fact overlooked by your writers is that the Indian flotilla is led by a “5,000 tonne Russian-built destroyer”, rather than the newer and more potent 6,700 tonne Indian-built Delhi-class series which the Chinese would surely love to examine. Along with India’s larger fleet of modern Kilo-class submarines and Krivak-class stealth frigates, India’s blue-water naval capabilities have long been a source of serious concern to China, which, for example, still lacks an aircraft carrier.

In 2000, an Indian naval battle group operated unhindered for months in the South China Sea, ostensibly to conduct anti-piracy exercises with the South Korean and Japanese navies. At the time, a respected US military think-tank (STRATFOR) observed that the Indian move “to expand operations from the north of the Arabian Sea through the South China Sea and to establish an expeditionary-capable force not only threatens China's areas of operation but also alters the balance of naval power in the region.”

More worryingly for China, India has recently begun sounding out Vietnam (and certain countries in Southeast Asia) to buy Indian warships, among them the Delhi-class destroyers conspicuously absent at Shanghai.

Your writers may thus be misreading the message by focusing entirely on New Delhi’s concern “about China's growing naval reach”.
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