While China objects if Indian Navy ships pass the South China Sea (SCS), an increasingly belligerent Beijing asserts that PLA Navy submarines crossing the Indian Ocean and docking in Colombo and Karachi are “legitimate” and “follow international practice”. Speaking to reporters late on Thursday, spokesperson for the Ministry of National Defence, Senior Colonel Yang Yujun, said, “The Chinese submarines crossed some of the sea areas and those crossings are legitimate and legal, and we follow international practices.”
And when he was asked why Beijing objected to Indian Naval presence in the South China Sea region, Yujun said, “I want to point out one thing. You said when Indian ships enter the South China Sea, [we are saying] it is wrong. But where did you hear that? I am from the Ministry of Defence and I never said that.” He added that China is okay with foreign naval vessels in the SCS region which are there “in accordance with international law”.
It should be noted here that China had even as recently as in May objected to presence of Indian Naval ships in the SCS region.
Four Indian Navy ships crossed the SCS to participate in the Malabar Exercises off the coast of Japan. And while the exercise was on, a Chinese spy ship followed an American aircraft carrier
in the region.
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On the other hand, India has been pointing out at the growing Chinese PLAN presence in India’s immediate neighbourhood. In 2015, PLAN Yuan-class submarines made their first ever port call to Karachi and also stopped in Colombo. Experts have said that China is flexing its naval presence in the IOR to ensure the strengthening of the ‘One Road, One China’ policy of which China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is an integral part.