For the first time ever, India has offered to share real-time intelligence of maritime movements in the Indian Ocean with 10 countries including Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Sri-Lanka and Mauritius.
The move is aimed to counter the threats related to human trafficking, smuggling and territorial disputes in the South-China Sea.
It comes at a time when China is becoming increasingly aggressive in the South China Sea region. China had recently set-up its first off-shore base in the Horn of Africa country of Djibouti. To counter China, India is now looking at a cooperative approach instead of going alone.
Navy Chief Admiral Sunil Lanba said that the offer has been very positively received. The Navy chief gave the statement at the Goa Maritime Conclave (GMC) where the Indian Navy for the first time is hosting Navy and Maritime Chiefs of 10 countries of Indian Ocean Region (IOR).
He told India Today that they have identified common security threats across all countries. “We need greater degree of coordination and info sharing to take things forward to provide maritime security and safety of the global commons of the Indian Ocean.”
India has also reportedly offered the countries in the IOR to share their real-time data on movement in the Indian Ocean. The information essentially aims at dealing with non-traditional threats arising at sea and not the conventional military purposes.
The offer was welcomed at the Conclave where a Navy Chief reportedly said that all countries should equally contribute to the process and modalities for the exchanging the infirmation should be discussed.
China’s naval base in the Horn of Africa country is the country’s first overseas military base. However, Beijing has officially described it as a logistics facility. It will be used to resupply navy ships taking part in peacekeeping and humanitarian missions off the coasts of Yemen and Somalia, in particular.
Djibouti’s position on the northwestern edge of the Indian Ocean has fuelled worry in India that it would become another of China’s “string of pearls” military alliances and assets ringing India, including Bangladesh, Myanmar and Sri Lanka.