India alarmed by China's plan to deploy warships in Gwadar

Premier Li says Beijing to promote key infrastructure projects in Pakistan

New Delhi/Beijing - The proposed deployment of Chinese warships at the Gwadar port in Pakistan has raised serious concerns in New Delhi, reported Russian website Sputnik.

Addressing the Indian Navy's annual press conference, Naval Chief Admiral Sunil Lanba said that Gwadar was meant to be a commercial harbour and that if it is to be used by the Chinese PLA (People’s Liberation Army) for defence purposes it would be a matter of grave concern for India.

"In future, if PLA Navy ships operate from Gwadar, it will be a matter of concern, we will have to think of ways to mitigate the challenge," Admiral Lanba said.

The Gwadar port, 400 nautical miles from India's western border of Gujarat, is being developed as part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

China considers Gwadar a major commercial and strategic hub for it to mark its strong presence in the Indian Ocean region. But for India, it is a matter of concern, as the presence of Chinese naval vessels in the area would further confirm its suspicion of a Chinese plot to encircle India militarily.

Apart from Pakistan, India's other immediate neighbours, Bangladesh and Myanmar, have already acquired naval vessels from China. China has also supplied a variety of aircraft and patrol vessels to the Sri Lankan armed forces. Apart from the Chinese frigates and corvettes it currently possesses, Pakistan is in the process of acquiring eight submarines from China.

As a countermeasure, India has deployed a large number of patrol vessels and submarines in the Indian Ocean region. "We are deployed 24x7 in key areas in the Gulf of Aden to the Strait of Malacca besides the straits of Sunda and Lumbok," Admiral Lanba claimed.

The Indian Navy chief also confirmed that at any given point in time, there are several Chinese ships present in the Indian Ocean region, which China claims are on an anti-piracy mission. "In the month of August, there was a unique situation, as there were 14 ships in the area," Admiral Lanba added.

As part of its massive strategy to counter China, the Indian Navy plans to deploy another 34 naval ships in the area in the coming few years. The ships are currently under construction at different Indian shipyards. However, the speed with which China has been adding to its naval assets in the region has dwarfed India's efforts.

Meanwhile, China is willing to carry out key infrastructure projects and discuss a free trade zone with Pakistan, said Premier Li Keqiang when meeting with Pakistani Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi in Sochi, Russia.

Li said both countries have maintained well-promoted cooperation in various fields and made progress in building the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) over the past four years, China Daily reported on Friday.

China would like to promote cooperation in production capacity and discuss a free trade zone, which can promote balanced trade and strengthen enterprise ties for both nations, he said.

The premier extended gratitude to his Pakistani counterpart on the security provided to Chinese companies and citizens in the South Asian neighbour.

He hoped security can be further enhanced to cultivate an inviting environment for economic cooperation between the two nations.

Li said China welcomes Pakistan to join the Meeting of the Council of Heads of Government of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) for the first time as a member state.

China would like to boost exchanges and coordination in multilateral mechanism, such as the SCO, and regional affairs, he said.

Abbasi said Pakistan is ready to maintain high-level exchanges and deepen cooperation in various fields with China. Pakistan will take measures to safeguard cooperative projects. China, as the rotating SCO chair, will further promote the organization's development, he said.

Meanwhile, Abbasi and Prime Minister of Kyrgyzstan Sapar Isakov agreed to further enhance cooperation in all areas of mutual interest including trade and defence, besides stressing on the need for greater cooperation between the chambers of commerce and Industry of the two countries.

During a meeting, both prime ministers exchanged views on ways to enhance cooperation in the framework of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization as well as bilaterally.

They expressed satisfaction that all agreements regarding CASA-1000 Project had been signed and the project was now in its implementation stage.

Abbasi underscored that the development of a network of highways and motorways underway in Pakistan would benefit Kyrgyzstan and other countries of the region by providing connectivity to Gawadar and other ports of Pakistan.

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