Beijing unlocks doors for Indian Navy

Indian-NavyIndia and China may eye each other suspiciously along the Line of Actual Control, but Beijing seems eager to unlock the doors to advance maritime cooperation.

The People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) rolled out the red carpet for the current batch of officers attending the prestigious Naval Higher Command Course (NHCC) at the College of Naval Warfare, Karanja (Maharastra).

Perceived to be potential leaders in the Navy’s future hierarchy, the 29 officers were granted access to the PLAN headquarters in Beijing, the Naval Command College in Nanjing and the Shanghai naval base under the East Sea Command during the visit from Jan 15-19.

The PLAN, however, made sure that its indigenous aircraft carrier programme at the Shanghai naval base was kept off-limits for Indian officers. Sources said, “They accepted they were building a carrier but were hush-hush about the details.”

China plans to deploy aircraft carriers as it currently lacks robust blue-water power-projection capability to deploy forces far away from its shores. The Pentagon estimates that the PLAN may not have a domestically produced aircraft carrier before 2015, but China has begun training its future carrier pilots. It may begin operating Varyag — a Russian carrier bought in 1998 — as a training ship in around two years.

Navy sources said, “The PLAN tried to project an image different from popular western perception. But ... China is beginning to turn the corner in terms of modernising its navy.”

India is worried about China’s navy modernisation, particularly its presence in high seas surrounding the country.