No Chinese warship near Maldives: India

Bengaluru: As India continued to openly articulate its deep unease against the move by the Maldivian president to extend the emergency, urging President Abdulla Yameen's government to "return Maldives quickly to the path of democracy and the rule of law", it also downplayed the move by China to deploy its warships in the eastern Indian Ocean. Government sources on Tuesday said no Chinese warship has been deployed close to the waters of the Maldives since political turmoil broke out in the island-nation, and India continues to have a significant presence in critical sea lanes in the Indian Ocean region. The sources strongly rejected media reports quoting Chinese website sina.com.cn that 11 Chinese warships had entered the East Indian Ocean. They, did say however that a Chinese destroyer and a frigate crossed into the Eastern Indian Ocean through the Sunda Strait and exited the Indian Ocean through Lombok Strait while heading towards the South China Sea a few days ago.

The sources said India currently has a significant naval presence in the Indian Ocean region, adding Indian Navy has deployed one warship each in East of Indonesia, Malacca Strait, Gulf of Oman and Gulf of Aden. India has also deployed a warship next to the waters of Sri Lanka, another one between Bangladesh and Myanmar and one between the Seychelles and Mauritius. India has two Advanced Light Helicopters (ALH) in the Maldives and around 40 personnel from the Indian armed forces are stationed at the island nation as part of defence cooperation between the two countries. “We have a very robust surveillance mechanism at the Indian Ocean Region based on deployment since July 2017. No movement of Chinese warship has been detected near the waters of Maldives,” said a source in the Indian Navy. It said currently, the closest distance between a Chinese warship and Maldivian waters would be around 2,500 nautical miles.

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