Message to China: India sends Naval task force to South China Sea

The Navy says The Indian ships will be deployed for a two-month period to southeast Asia, the South China Sea and the western Pacific

The USS Ronald Reagan and USS Nimitz (CVN 68) Carrier Strike Groups steam in formation in the South China Sea in July, 2020. File Photo

In furtherance of the Quad objective, India is sending a naval task force to the South China Sea in August to expand security ties with friendly countries, officials said on Wednesday (August 4), indicating its intention to play a bigger role in efforts to counter China, NDTV reported.

The Indian military has so far been cautious in annoying China, but the mood has changed since the Galwan clashes in eastern Ladakh in May last year.

Four ships, including a guided missile destroyer and a missile frigate, will be deployed for a two-month period to southeast Asia, the South China Sea and the western Pacific, NDTV said quoting a statement of the Indian Navy.

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“The deployment of the Indian Navy ships seeks to underscore the operational reach, peaceful presence and solidarity with friendly countries towards ensuring good order in the maritime domain…” the Navy said.

The South China Sea is a flashpoint in the tenuous ties between China and the United States. Beijing has been accused of unlawful territorial claims in the resource-rich waters. Several countries such as Vietnam, the Philippines and Malaysia have competing claims in the region and have accused Beijing of incursions in a land surrounded by several islands where China has built defence infrastructure.

In June, a US aircraft carrier group led by the USS Ronald Reagan entered the South China Sea as part of a routine mission and a British carrier group is due to undertake exercises in the Philippine Sea this month.

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The Indian ships will take part in annual joint war drills involving the United States, Japan and Australia off the coast of Guam, the Navy said.

The four countries make up the Quad, an informal group, that the Biden administration is supporting as a way to counter an assertive China.

“These maritime initiatives enhance synergy and coordination between the Indian Navy and friendly countries, based on common maritime interests and commitment towards Freedom of Navigation at sea,” the Indian Navy said in its statement.