Karela Fry

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India-China face off, near Vietnam?

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The international media picked up a pretty sensational story from Financial Times:

A Chinese warship confronted an Indian navy vessel shortly after it left a Vietnamese port in late July in the first such encounter between the two countries’ navies in the South China Sea.

The unidentified Chinese warship demanded that India’s INS Airavat, an amphibious assault vessel, identify itself and explain its presence in what it said were Chinese waters, shortly after it completed a scheduled port call in Vietnam.

Indian officials said the ship was 44 nautical miles off the Vietnamese coast, considered to be within Vietnam’s economic zone, when it was hailed by the Chinese vessel on July 22. It was travelling from one Vietnamese port to another.

This latest example of China’s naval assertiveness has irked defence officials in India and Vietnam. China claims the South China Sea in its entirety, rejecting partial claims by Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Taiwan over the resource-rich region.

“Any navy in the world has full freedom to transit through these waters or high seas,” said one Indian official familiar with the encounter. “For any country to proclaim ownership or question the right to passage by any other nation is unacceptable.”

Vietnam’s foreign ministry acknowledged that the INS Airavat visited the country from July 19-22, but said it had no information about the incident. The Chinese defence and foreign ministries declined comment, as did the Indian government.

NDTV quoted a denial by the Indian navy:

India has denied that a Chinese warship confronted an Indian naval vessel shortly after it left Vietnamese waters in late July.

A report in the Financial Times claimed that the Chinese ship demanded that INS Airawat, an amphibious assault vessel, identify itself and explain its presence in the South China Sea.

The newspaper said that the Indian warship was in international waters after completing a scheduled port call in Vietnam.

“Media reports of INS Airavat being stopped by a Chinese vessel in South China Sea are incorrect. There was noconfrontation with any vessel. The INS Airavat was on a scheduled visit to Vietnam and other Southeast Asian countries in July 2011,” a statement from the Navy said.

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Written by Arhopala Bazaloides

September 1, 2011 at 10:05 am

2 Responses

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  1. […] South China Sea, India is not exactly a distant observer. There have been unconfirmed reports of naval face offs between India and China in this region. Recently there was a little diplomatic incident; DNA reported: Countering External […]

  2. […] their quest for oil in East Asia, China and India had reportedly almost come to a military engagement in South China Sea. Both sides backed down, but did not give up their claims. China and Vietnam have also faced off in […]


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