In a first, India to take part in China’s International Fleet Review


New Delhi : Indicative of growing bilateral military ties, Indian Navy warships will, for the first time, participate in China’s International Fleet Review in late April, an official said.

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“Three warships and a tanker from the Eastern Fleet sailed today (Friday) to participate in the International Fleet Review April 20-24,” a senior naval officer said.

The warships participating in the review, to be held off Tsingtao port in Shandong province, include the guided missile destroyers INS Mumbai and INS Ranveer, the guided missile corvette INS Khanjar and the tanker INS Jyoti.

The fleet review, being held to mark the 60th anniversary of the Chinese Navy, will also see a Pakistan Navy frigate participating in the event.

India and China, who fought a brief and bloody border war in 1962, have seen a steady ramping of their military-military ties.

The two countries signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) in May 2006 during a visit by the then defence minister (and current External Affairs Minister) Pranab Mukherjee that stipulated that the two countries would hold joint military exercises, join forces in counter-terrorism and anti-piracy efforts, and also cooperate in search and rescue operations.

The first joint exercise was staged at Kunming in China’s Yunnan province in December 2007 and the second at Belgaum in Karnataka last December.

Chinese Navy chief Admiral Wu Sheng Li visited India last year, while the Indian Air Force chief, Air Chief Marshal Fali Homi Major, travelled to Beijing.

The IAF’s Surya Kiran Aerobatic Team (SKAT), which has enthralled spectators worldwide with its intricate manoeuvres in the skies, also performed in China for the first time in 2008.

Indian and Chinese warships have been making calls at either country’s ports as part of growing confidence-building measures between the two sides.

At the same time, the Indian Navy has for long expressed apprehension about the increased presence of the Chinese Navy in the Indian Ocean region and hopes to blunt its thrust through greater engagement.