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US takes exception to the Chinese presence in the Indian Ocean

United States, the naval power house of the world has set alarm bells ringing about Chinese navy's actions in the Indian Ocean region and said it would work with India to provide stability to the region.

Chinese actions in the Indian Ocean are adding to the sense of anxiety in the region, Admiral Scott Swift, US Pacific Fleet Commander said.

Admiral Scott Swift, who met civilian and military leadership of India, said Chinese ships were doing an OBOR tour and right now there are more questions than answers. China has increased its presence in the Indian Ocean.

 He said his discussions with Indian officials covered what India and US could do to provide stability in the region. Chinese actions, he said, were adding to a sense of "anxiety" in the region. Uncertainty over the consequences and a lack of clarity about the goals of China's OBOR programme is being raised "in every country he visited in the region he said.

Although the chief of US Pacific Command, Admiral Harry Harris had, earlier this year, spoken about a future of joint patrols and joint tracking of Chinese submarines if India signed on to the remaining foundational agreements, these ambitions now appear to be less publicly articulated. Swift instead spoke about "pass-ex" and the upcoming Malabar exercises.

Scheduled for July in Bay of Bengal, Malabar has attracted extra attention this year because of Australia's public request to join. But Swift said this would only happen gradually in a clear indication that neither the US nor India wants to raise Chinese hackles further by turning the Japan-India-US trilateral exercise into  a grouping.

Swift clarified that ASW (anti-submarine warfare) would be part of the exercise this year, an acknowledgment of China's submarine capabilities. He admitted China's naval capacities were rising quickly.

But compared to the "instability" in the South and East China Sea he said Indian Ocean's stability stemmed from the fact that as the larger power, India abided by the UNCLOS ruling to settle the maritime boundary with Bangladesh, despite losing some territory, thereby adding to regional stability. That is missing in the South China Sea.

While India and the US have a working group on carrier technology and building, Swift indicated the progress was slow.


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