insight lead Fwd: High tempo of fighter flying operations at Malabar naval drill. Image Source: IANS News

New Delhi, Nov 30 : India has observed that there is an increasing trend of Chinese research vessels and fishing vessels operating in the Indian Ocean Region, raising security concerns for countries in the ocean.

While the Chinese fishing vessels indicate the country's growing footprint in the Indian Ocean Region, the research vessels have raised security concerns as they could be surveying the characteristics of the sea water for improving submarine warfare capabilities.

"There has been a steady rise in the deployment of Chinese research vessels in Indian Ocean Region. The general area of deployment has been observed in ninety-degree East Ridge and South-West Indian Ridge," said a source in the government.

The source also stated that there is also an increasing trend of Chinese Fishing Vessels in high seas in the Indian Ocean Region. Around 300 Chinese fishing vessels sail every year but last year almost 450 vessels sailed. "The fishing activity has a seasonal behaviour wherein the fishing vessels withdraw from Arabian Sea prior to the onset of monsoon and return in September and October," the source said.

The concentration of Chinese fishing activities has been observed in the Central Arabian Sea and South West Indian Ocean.

It was further pointed that the Chinese Navy ships including their submarines frequent the waters on the pretext of anti-piracy operations The Indian Navy is aware of China's growing maritime prowess in the Indian Ocean Region as it is expanding its naval operations. Further, China has also been shifting a lot of resources from other arms to the Navy, keeping in line with their aim of becoming a global power.

Last year in September, a Chinese vessel close to the Indian waters was whisked away after it was suspected to be on a spying mission.

These research vessels come in the Indian Ocean Region also to either survey areas for deep sea mining or to study the characteristics of the water for ensuring the safety of submarines from anti-submarine warfare, the source said.

However, these vessels are tracked by the Automatic Identification System (AIS) transponders fitted in them.

The AIS information, comprising an AIS code that is specific to a country, is clearly detectable and the Indian Navy is keeping an eye on each and every Chinese vessel entering the region.

(Sumit Kumar Singh can be reached at sumit.k@ians.in)

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