Friday, October 31, 2008

Chinese navy chief to visit India

Chinese navy chief to arrive on first-ever visit

NEW DELHI, In a first ever visit by a Chinese Navy chief to India, Admiral Wu Shengli will arrive in New Delhi on Saturday. He is slated to hold
discussions with defence minister A K Antony and his Indian counterpart Admiral Sureesh Mehta to boost military confidence-building measures.

This comes at a time when India and China are jostling for the same strategic space in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) to secure their energy and other needs. India, of course, does not want this "competition" to escalate into "conflict".

With China on course to acquire aircraft carriers, the one capability lacking in its otherwise potent naval force, its Navy chief is especially keen to get a first-hand look at India's operation of 'INS Viraat' and its Sea Harrier jump-jets.

"Apart from holding talks with Antony and Admiral Mehta during his visit from November 1 to 5, he will be visiting the Western Naval Command at Mumbai, the naval airbase at Goa and the upcoming naval base at Karwar," said an official.

Indian and Chinese armed forces have been incrementally building up their military ties, which in December 2007 led to the first-ever joint counter-terrorism exercise between the two armies at Kunming, with the return exercise planned at Belgaum in India this December.

Apart from other concerns, India remains worried about strategic moves by China in maritime domain. In keeping with the "string of pearls" strategic construct, China is forging linkages with eastern Africa, Seychelles, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Cambodia, among others, in a bid to encircle India.