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No navy has grown as rapidly in the last 200 years as China's: Indian naval chief Sunil Lanba

File photo: Indian Navy chief Sunil Lanba. Photograph:( Zee News Network )

WION New Delhi, Delhi, India Jan 09, 2019, 07.43 PM (IST) Written By: Sidhant Sibal

Raising concerns over the increased Chinese presence in the Indian Ocean, Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Sunil Lanba said Wednesday that "at any given time, there are six to eight Chinese Navy ships in the northern part of the Indian Ocean" and "no navy has grown so rapidly in the last 200 years as the Chinese Navy." 

Lanba added that "they are a force and they are a force which is here to stay."

The Chinese have added 80 ships to their navy in the last 5 years. 

Lanba was speaking at the fourth Raisina Dialogue in Delhi. 

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Elaborating, the navy chief said, "since 2008 there has been a permanent presence of the Chinese Navy in the Indian Ocean region in the form of anti-piracy escort force. The 31st anti-piracy escort force is present in the Gulf of Aden."

China commissioned its first overseas facility in Djibouti two years ago. The stated aim of Bejing's deployment is to protect Chinese trade from piracy in the region. 

Lanba however said that China has "deployed submarines for anti-piracy operations" which is the "most unlikely platform to be used for this role". 

He also expressed concern over China's spending on its military. 

"There is no doubt they are spending a huge sum of money to develop military capabilities. They are modernising the forces, they are modernising command structure," Lanba said. 

A Chinese submarine deployed in the Gulf of Aden since April 2015 docked at Karachi in May and July 2015 after transiting through international waters. 

India on its part undertakes coordinated patrols and maritime exercises with foreign navies including those of island countries in the Indian Ocean. India has also been increasing its diplomatic engagement with Indian Ocean region countries, and under the Indo-Pacific concept calling for a rules-based approach in the region.