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Indian ships' maritime exercise with US in SCS matter of concern: China

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An Indian Navy photo.

NEW DELHI (PTI): Indian ships taking part in maritime exercise in the South China Sea was a matter of "concern", a senior Chinese official said on Thursday, a day after four naval vessels set sail for the disputed waters for participating in Malabar exercise with the US and Japan.

The official said the colonial tactics of "divide and rule" was being used.

"When there is some trouble in the South China Sea, India is worried. When Indian ships participate in maritime exercises in the South China Sea, of course China will show concern," the official told reporters.

The statement comes ahead of Indian President Pranab Mukherjee's visit to China next week.

Guided missile stealth frigates, INS Satpura and INS Sahyadri, INS Shakti, a sophisticated fleet support ship, and INS Kirch, a guided missile corvette, had set sail on Thursday on a two-and-a-half month long operational deployment to the South China Sea and North West Pacific.

They will also take part in the Malabar exercise near the South China Sea. China claims sovereignty on almost all of the South China Sea which is disputed by Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan.

The US, which had been pushing for Japan's inclusion, has said the exercise is an important element for assessing the maritime capabilities of all the three countries.

The US has in recent months ramped up its warnings over what it calls China's growing "militarisation" in the region.

American warships and aircraft have undertaken a number of operations in the region to challenge China's moves even as the US hopes to stitch Asian military powers into a closer cooperation.

The US has also been pushing for a quadrilateral security dialogue involving itself, India, Japan and Australia.

Meanwhile, on the issue of terror group JeM chief Masood Azar, the Chinese official said his country has made no difference between India and Pakistan's enemy.

"You need strong evidence. It is not a bilateral issue, it is at the UN. He (Azar) is not an Indian citizen," he said, adding that "terrorism sponsor" as a word for Pakistan was a "too heavy title".

He said that it was good that foreign secretaries of the two countries met.

"We encourage this kind of talk. You don't have a language barrier and you have been in the same family," he said.

On the issue of India's entry into Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), the Chinese official said China has never blocked the country's entry into any world body.

"But as member of the UNSC, we are the watchdog of the world, we must ensure the rules. And we must also think about others not just India who want an exception to the rules," he said.

China's stand on India's membership of the NSG and its action in blocking the move to put JeM chief Masood Azhar on the global terrorists list may come up for discussion when President Mukherjee makes a four-day visit to China from May 24.

The official said Mukherjee's visit will be very successful and called for the two countries adopting a long-term strategy rather than short-term goals.

"They will talk about everything. This is an important time for India and China to think about their strategy. Time for India and China to fulfil the dream for Asian century.

"The financial crisis gives us this kind of chance. US and Western countries give us a chance. We should go hand in hand to see the broader picture for Asia," he said, adding that climate change and terrorism besides other global issues will also be discussed.

Talking about bilateral border issues, the official said 19 rounds of talks have been held so far.

"It seems too slow but it is already successful because no firing has taken place on this boundary," he said, adding no countries sharing a long border had such a peaceful situation.

"It shows wisdom of India and China...To change the map is very difficult. So it's not easy to resolve, but we can control the situation," he said.

He said both countries are working on delimitation and demarcation.

The official said there are too many differences when the two countries exchange maps.

"This creates more problem. But even the Line of Actual Control is not the same for both of us. There must be some flexibility. Need a basket solution that will give a meaningful solution," he said, citing example of China and Russia.

He said under dispute with Russia was 1.5 million square metres which was more than the disputed land between India and China.

"But China said let us base the negotiations on the actual line. One island went half and half. So let's discuss solutions, then better atmosphere will allow for resolution.

Tawang is very sensitive for us as it is the birthplace of 6th Dalai Lama. It is the British who created the problem. So we need to settle that," the official said.

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India  China  US  Maritime  SCS  Exercise  Military  
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