Naval Chief Admiral Sureesh Mehta warned that China's maritime plans, co-opting neighboring nations including Myanmar, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Eastern African nations, could be used against India in the future. Acknowledging that these nations are not against India now, he warned that these positions could change 20 years hence.
Strongly opposing inclusion of Chinese companies in infrastructure port projects, Mehta highlighted that China has already established strategic ties with Pakistan, been strengthening ties with Myanmar for a long time, and has some minor interests with Sri Lanka. Further, "While building jetties and ports, Chinese firms will have access to hydrological data" that are "vital for submarine operation near the coast" and this can not only help that nation militarily but also "further its economic interest." The hydrological data, collected regularly by the Navy and government oceanographers gives an idea of ocean depth and the contours of the under-sea terrain, is strategically vital in mapping a submarine's path. With the strategic closeness between China and Pakistan, there is nothing that such data could be shared by Beijing with Islamabad. Moreover, Pakistan has recently sold its older submarines to Bangladesh.
Mehta's made his comments on the even of Navy Day and comes in the wake of politically-motivated approvals to allow Chinese companies to bid for a couple of port projects in Kerala at Vallarpadom near Kochi and Vizhinjam near Trivandrum for container handling and as a trans-shipment station for cargo vessels respectively. The communist parties, which are alleged allies of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Government, controls the state and exerts disproportionate pressure to get its agenda through.
Mehta was quick to add that while the Navy objected to the involvement of Chinese companies in port projects, it is also greatly upgrading its anti-submarine capability. He said that the Navy is increasing its surveillance and blue water capability through the adoption of rotary-based unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) and is also buying long-range maritime spy planes. Additionally, the Navy also intends to buy "12 helicopter launched UAVs" and replacing the ageing Sea-King anti-submarine helicopters. While the first batch will be imported, subsequent units will be manufactured under license at Hindustan Aeronautical Limited (HAL).