India has dispatched an indigenously-built stealth destroyer INS Kolkata to take part in China’s maritime parade to mark the 70th anniversary of the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) to be held off China’s east coast later this month.
The country has also dispatched one of its largest ships, fleet tanker INS Shakti. Around 500 Indian navy personnel will be on the two ships, Hindustan Times reported Sunday.
Sending warships to PLAN’s event is part of the post-Wuhan reset of Sino-India ties following the cold snap in the aftermath of the Doklam (Donglang) standoff.
“The deployment of INS Kolkata at the event is a message of both cooperation and competition. Fleet reviews like the one that will take place later this month are essential ‘bodybuilding’ shows for navies. The force with the best ‘muscles’ will garner the most attention,” Ben Ho, a naval analyst told HT.
This will be the first time Indian warships are coming to China since April 2014 when the PLAN marked its 65th anniversary with events in Qingdao.
“The Kolkata-Shakti combination is noteworthy. Through it, New Delhi arguably wants Beijing to take note of its independent blue-water capabilities in far-flung regions, including perhaps the South China Sea. After all, Beijing has looked askance at previous Indian naval deployments to that contested body of water which it regards as its own ‘backyard’,” Ho added.
“Up till now, over 60 countries have confirmed to send navy delegations to participate in the activities and multiple countries have confirmed to send naval vessels to the international fleet review,” defence ministry spokesperson, Colonel Wu Qian said last month.
Meanwhile, Pakistan is unlikely to send any warships to take part in the Chinese event, the report added.
At least two Pakistani ships were expected to attend the review to be inspected by President Xi Jinping. The withdrawal of the Pakistani ships hasn’t been announced officially, but the reason behind it could be the current heavy deployment of the Indian navy in the Arabian Sea.
Japan Times reported last week that the US will not send warships or senior military officers to attend the event. Japan and South Korea are expected to take part in the event.