Hi-tech Chinese ship spied on India using Colombo harbour: NDTV

[TamilNet, Friday, 02 September 2011, 10:26 GMT]
A hi-tech Chinese ship with 22 in-built laboratories, but disguised as a fishing trawler, has spied on India using Colombo harbour facilities and Sri Lankan territorial waters a few months ago, an Indian media has reported on Wednesday. The Delhi-based NDTV in its exclusive report said that by the time ship figured in the Indian radars, “it had operated already for about 22 days and was positioned off-the cost of Little Anadaman - an area which is considered sensitive and crucial in the ongoing battle for supremacy over the Indian Ocean region between India and China”. According to the report, although an Indian naval ship was deployed immediately to deal with the target, no punitive action could be taken against the Chinese ship as it was in international waters.

“The Indian Naval ship, instead, tailed the Chinese ship sending out a clear message that India was aware of its actual mission. In order to avoid the Indian Navy tail, the Chinese Ship moved towards Sri Lanka and docked at the Colombo harbour,” the NDTV report said, adding that the inquiries by the Indian security agencies have revealed that the Chinese ship had as many as 22 laboratories on board.

“A report sent up to government, which NDTV has access to, claims that the Chinese ship was mapping the Indian Ocean and picking up crucial Bathymetric data. Other Laboratories on board the ship were designed to collect data on the currents of the Indian Ocean, the temperature at various depths and also very crucially, underwater obstructions and obstacles,” it said.

Bathymetric data information is crucial for submarine and Carrier based operations. Information about ocean currents, on the other hand, is crucial if torpedoes are to be used.

“What is also worrying Indian security agencies is the presence several Chinese fishing trawlers along Wheeler Island off the Orissa coast during test launches of missiles. All Indian missiles are tested from Wheeler Islands. Security agencies have told the government that fishing trawlers are most likely monitoring the Indian missile test launches and colleting telemetric data of the missile. Telemetric data is crucial to build effective counter measure against missiles,” the NDTV report said.

India has repeatedly expressed its deep concerns over the ever increasing Chinese influence in Sri Lanka especially after the election of incumbent President Mahinda Rajapaksa to power in November 2005. Capitalising on the geopolitical battle for supremacy in the Indian Ocean, the Mahinda Rajapaksa regime has moved more towards China whether to fight the Tamil Tiger rebels or to develop the war-ravaged island nation, virtually leaving New Delhi with no option but to come begging to Colombo to neutralise the Chinese influence.

This was very evident from the statements from the Indian bureaucrats and leaders, including the incumbent Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh, who rejected recently a call for an economic sanction on Sri Lanka claiming that any such move on the island nation “would only encourage China to displace India as a strategic and trading partner of Sri Lanka”.

China is also accused of aiding the Sri Lanka naval forces to attack Indian fishermen.

According to the NDTV report, India's assessment is that China would be able to carry out aircraft carrier based operations by 2017.

“China doesn't have an operational aircraft carrier yet. The collection of data from the Indian Ocean is designed towards this. Once the Chinese Carrier Battle Group is ready for operations, the Indian Ocean region will be one of the main focus areas of China,” it said.

Although this will not help China to secure the shipping lanes that carry its exports towards Europe and North America but protect oil and coal imports, the presence of the Chinese Navy in the Indian Ocean region, however, cannot be altogether benign for India.

“In fact the presence of a Carrier Battle Group in Indian Ocean region is a serious military threat for India. Chinese ground forces already have an edge over their Indian counterparts along the land borders. Chinese naval presence in Indian Ocean region is, therefore, a cause of serious concern for India.


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