“India shares real-time maritime intelligence with 10 nations with a view to countering China”, India’s Zee News reported on the 4th. It said that it was the first time in the history of India that maritime intelligence was shared with 10 countries along the Indian Ocean coast, including Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Sri Lanka and Mauritius.
The announcement was made in a statement issued by the Indian Naval Chief of Staff, Lamba, at the Goa Maritime Conference. Recently, the Indian side hosted a meeting of the naval chiefs of staff of countries in the Indian Ocean region, the first of its kind. Lamba told India Today that they had identified the common security threat in all countries. “We need to coordinate and take far reaching steps to share information to safeguard the Indian Ocean region”.
Zee News commented that the move came at a time when China was increasingly tough on the South China Sea issue. In the meantime, China established the first overseas military logistics support base in Djibouti. To counter China, India is now looking for partners, not just confrontation. In a media interview a few days ago, Lamba said that in the face of China’s “muscle-flexing” in the oceans, India has guarded every entrance and exit of the Indian Ocean and claims that Indian and coastal navies are exploring overlapping areas of interest for cooperation.
It is reported that the data that India shared with ten countries along the Indian Ocean coast reportedly addressed non-traditional security threats at sea, including trafficking, smuggling and disputes in the South China Sea. Lamba said the proposal to share real-time maritime intelligence was welcomed and the participating countries responded positively.
Recently, India seems to have devoted more attention to the Indian Ocean region. The Times of India reported on the 5th that as China expanded its influence in the Indian Ocean region through infrastructure construction and financing, India has begun to work closely with the United States on (the problems of) Maldives and Sri Lanka. The article said that India and the United States are trying to pull Sri Lanka out of the “made in China debt trap” and Japan has played a huge role in that. Sources said that the aim was to turn Sri Lanka, a consumer, into a net contributor to the security network in the Indian Ocean region. The Times of India commented that India’s Indian Ocean policy is undergoing dramatic changes.