"Lack of transparency and intent" raises questions.Dinakar Peri, The Hindu
9 January 2015
A senior visiting U.S. Admiral on Friday questioned the motive behind China deploying submarines for anti-piracy operations in the Indian Ocean. The comments come in the backdrop of India’s growing concerns over rapid expansion of Chinese maritime capabilities and creation of facilities in the Indian Ocean region to support its forces.
“It’s hard for me as a maritime commander to understand how can a submarine support anti-piracy operations?” U.S. Pacific Fleet Commander, Admiral Scott Swift said referring to Chinese nuclear submarines on anti-piracy missions in the Gulf of Aden.
China which is a major importer of oil has been setting up a series of ports across the Indian Ocean rim referred to experts as “string of pearls” as a means to safeguard its resources traversing the critical choke points.
It has recently announced that it is establishing it first overseas military base in the African nation of Djibouti, sitting on the crucial Gulf of Aden, and also a major reorganisation of its military to make it a leaner and agile fighting force. Without terming it a military base, the Chinese Foreign ministry had stated that the new facility would be used as a supply to Chinese Navy ships undertaking antipiracy missions in the region.
Admitting that a raising power like China would secure its assets and resources, he noted with concern that the issue was the "lack of transparency and intent" on the part of the China.
On Chinese increasing assertiveness in the South China Sea, Admiral Swift said the challenge in the South China Sea is broader than the issue of freedom of navigation. “What is most important is the application of national law in international space. It is a sovereign issue,” he observed.
China which claims the part of South China Sea up to the nine dash line as its own has been reclaiming reefs in the region at an alarming rate. Recently it has landed civilian planes on a 3,000 metre air strip on the Fiery Cross reef raising further concerns that fighter jets could follow next.
The U.S. which has strongly condemned China’s land reclamation has stepped up efforts to enforce freedom of navigation in international waters. Last year the U.S. Pacific fleet conducted more than 700 days of operations in the South China Sea (if two ships operate in a day it is two days of operations).