Amid Doklam standoff, the Chinese Navy has invited the Indian Navy to join hands with the former in order to strengthen security of the Indian Ocean.

India, which expressed serious concern over the increasing presence of the Chinese fleet in the Indian Ocean (considered as its backyard by New Delhi), received the invitation last week. After inaugurating the People’s Liberation Army Navy’s strategic South Sea Fleet base in Zhanjiang, senior official of the Chinese Navy Captain Liang Tianjun said that it was important for the two forces to work together for the sake of regional security.

Captain Liang stressed that the Asian giant had no plan to pose a threat to neighbouring India, saying: “It is my opinion that China and India can make joint contributions to the safety and security of the Indian Ocean.” He told the press that China recently sent warships and submarines to the Indian Ocean and also set up a naval base at Djibouti in the Horn of Africa only to provide better security to ships sailing in this area. “The Indian Ocean is a vast ocean. It is a common place for the international community to contribute to the peace and stability in the region,” he added.

Meanwhile, Indian defence experts are of the opinion that China made such a move mainly because of three reasons: the increasing strength of the Indian Navy, the growing influence of India-Japan-America axis in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) and Beijing’s plan to control the Asian waters. It is not that China is eager to form a military alliance with India. Even, it’s not a direct message to New Delhi, but an attempt to send a message to the top Indian political leadership through a commander of the Chinese Navy. The way the whole thing has been presented, it is clear that China needs India’s help to increase its influence in the IOR.

According to experts, Beijing is well aware of the fact that the Indian Navy is the only power to challenge China’s authority in the Indian Ocean. So, the Asian powerhouse wants to keep the Indian Navy under pressure by increasing its presence in the IOR. In recent times, India, Japan and America have conducted joint naval exercises in the region, thus, throwing a strong challenge to China. As a counter strategy, Beijing decides to encourage India to leave the axis and work together with China.

However, India has no immediate plan to accept China’s proposal.

Koushik Das, based in the Indian capital of New Delhi, is a senior news editor with more than 15 years of experience. He also runs a blog - Boundless Ocean of Politics. E-Mail: [email protected]