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Asia Today ISSN 1861-4604 Monday, October 23, 2017

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How China is making U.S. anxious in the Indian Ocean region

Military leadership in India

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BEIJING, China - Following a meeting with the military leadership in India, U.S. Pacific Fleet commander Admiral Scott Swift publicly questioned the intent of China’s One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative in the maritime domain.>BNN

Admiral Swift, who met India’s civilian and military leaders, is said to have discussed what India and U.S. could do to provide stability in the Indian Ocean Region.

Further, he noted that every country is raising question over China’s OBOR programme in relation to the Indian Ocean, that he termed a "sea of stability.”

Admiral Swift said Chinese ships were doing an OBOR tour - "right now there are more questions than answers. China has increased its presence in the Indian Ocean." 

He also noted that Chinese actions were adding to a sense of "anxiety" in the region. 

He said that uncertainty over the consequences and a lack of clarity about the goals of China's OBOR programme is being raised "in every country I visit.”

Earlier this year, chief of U.S. Pacific Command, Admiral Harry Harris had spoken about a future of joint patrols and joint tracking of Chinese submarines if India signed on to the remaining foundational agreements, these ambitions now appear to be less publicly articulated. 

Swift meanwhile stressed on "pass-ex" and the upcoming Malabar exercises.

Australia earlier made a public request to join the Malabar exercises scheduled to be held in July in the Bay of Bengal. 

Swift, noting that China's naval capacities were rising quickly, said in his statement that P8s and ASW (anti-submarine warfare) would be part of the exercise this year, an acknowledgement of China's submarine capabilities.

He said that Indian Ocean's stability stemmed from the fact that as the larger power, India abided by the UNCLOS ruling to settle the maritime boundary with Bangladesh. Pointing out that this was missing in the South and East China Sea.

Admiral Swift also declared that there was no change in the U.S.’ policy towards Beijing on the South China Sea dispute and use of force and coercion by China in the region cannot be accepted at all.

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