New Delhi: India on Tuesday said it was not considering any active deployment of its warships in the Pacific Ocean and the South China Sea in particular in response to the US re-balancing its strategic focus to the Asia Pacific region.
“At this point of time, Pacific and South China Sea are of concern to the global community, but in terms of any active deployment from our side, it is not on the cards,” Indian Navy chief Admiral Nirmal Verma said at his farewell press conference here. He will retire from service this month end.
“It is true that major policy statements that have been issued by the US include future deployment in the Pacific. From our perspective, our primary area of interest that has been defined for us extends from the Malacca Straits to the (Persian) Gulf in the west, to down south to Cape of Good Hope,” he said.
However, he wished that India and its navy could do much more in the Indian Ocean region that it is doing at present.
“This is an area where we would like to do much more that what we are doing today. There is a fair amount that is happening and there is a fair amount of work to be done as far as the Indian Ocean region is concerned,” he said.
India has been actively patrolling the Indian Ocean region, considering that this area is its backyard and hence its responsibility.
Apart from anti-piracy patrols in the region, it is also actively helping smaller island states in the region to monitor its exclusive economic zone, as also in capacity-building of these nation’s maritime forces.
“There is certainly much more we need to do over here,” Verma said.
Explaining the rationale for his views, the Indian Navy chief said India does not want a situation in South China Sea when some untoward incident happens and that upsets global shipping. “Because it is going to have an impact on everybody.”
South China Sea is a key region and a major world trade route.
Verma said he believed that major powers operating in South China Sea are calibrating their steps so that a conflict situation does not arise there.
“All the players in South China Sea, that is the littorals, are conscious of what could happen if hostilities are ever to occur. These are also mature, major nations in the region,” he said, expressing confidence that global trade and economics will not let “further turmoil” in the region.
“Hopefully the situation does not precipitate,” he added.