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India, China join hands on the high seas to tackle pirates
Ajay Banerjee/TNS

India preparing for limited conflict with China: US

Washington: Noting that India is increasingly getting concerned about China's posture on its border, a top US intelligence official on Wednesday said the Indian Army is strengthening itself for a "limited conflict" with China. "Despite public statements intended to downplay tensions between India and China, we judge that India is increasingly concerned about China's posture along their disputed border," Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said.

New Delhi, February 1
Faced with persistent threats from pirates operating off the coast of Somalia, uneasy neighbours India and China have started cooperating with each other, roping in Japan to tackle piracy.

This is the first working relationship on the high seas between the Indian Navy and China’s People Liberation Army (Navy). The two armies have so far worked under an agreement to patrol land borders and also follow a protocol when faced with each other on the disputed Line of Actual Control. “The Naval arrangement started a month ago and has provided more safety and better utilisation of resources. It is a working-level meeting (on the high seas) to ensure effective communication and operations,” said Rear Admiral Monty Khanna, Assistant Chief of Naval Staff (foreign cooperation and intelligence).

Warships from India, China and Japan have been deployed independently. Their role is conducting independent anti-piracy patrols in the internationally recognised transit corridor — a 480 nautical mile (approx 890 km) long area in the Gulf of Aden. The 92-km wide corridor starts at the confluence of the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden and extends eastwards towards the Arabian Sea.

The three have so far not been part of the Combined Task Force-151, essentially a NATO-led force for anti-piracy, and nor are they part of the Eunavfor, another grouping of European countries along similar lines. Merchant ship operators have been keen that nations like India, China and Japan that are not part of the big groupings and operate independently, should cooperate among themselves as their standalone warships would then be of greater help in tackling piracy.

India has a warship on duty in the transit corridor since October 2008. China has two warships and a fleet tanker that replenishes supplies while the Japanese also have two warships along with a maritime reconnaissance plane based in Djibouti, close to Somalia.

To facilitate sharing of information, a counter-piracy platform exists and that is named Shared Awareness and De-confliction. It meets on a quarterly basis at Bahrain and has a convoy coordination group that provides merchant ships with naval warship protection. All navies that send warships to escort merchant vessels are extended members of SHADE. Its primary aim is to ensure effective coordination and de-confliction of military resources and operations in combating piracy.





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