Indian defence establishment has flagged 'recent' worrisome trends that have been noticed of hundreds of Chinese vessels venturing close to the coast of Mumbai and Gujarat in the Arabian sea.
“Most Chinese vessels are strategically ensconced just outside 200 nautical miles where India's current EEZ ends,” confirmed a senior naval commander with the Indian Naval Defence Advisory Group to the Free Press Journal.
It started in small numbers but now there are as many as one hundred to one hundred fifty vessels. Officials are not forthcoming as to where the vessels could be coming from. Small vessels cannot travel long distances without refuelling and Karachi, it may be pointed out here, is not too far away from the Gujarat coast.
'Spy ships' can gather data ranging from location of submarines to secret pipelines
It is quite likely that the presence of the Chinese vessels have been brought to the notice of the agencies concerned. Intel reports have warned that the Chinese fishing vessels also double up as 'mini spy ships' that can gather data ranging from the location of submarines to secret pipelines and activities of Indian ports.
The Western Naval Command is closely monitoring the sudden influx of Chinese vessels in the waters and has deployed several front line warships to checkmate the signs of China upping ante in grey zones similar to the tactics used in South China Sea.
Maritime experts identified most of the Chinese ships are on the sanctions list of the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the US Department of the Treasury and on the watchlist of Greenpeace.
India has petitioned the United Nations (UN) to expand its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) in the Arabian Sea near the coast of Gujarat and Mumbai to 500 nautical miles from the current boundary of 200 nautical miles and the grey zone policy of China is a huge threat to Indian economy and national security on the west coast.
Senior officials at the Embassy of China, New Delhi, denied any incursion in the Indian exclusive economic zone and said any intel reports were fabricated to demonise the image of the Republic of China.
“We haven't heard about the fishing vessels problem or complaints from the Indian side yet. Allow us to check the information and we will never hesitate to share,” Wang Xiaojian, press counsellor, Embassy of China, New Delhi, told the FPJ.