Chinese portal claims ships sailed into the eastern Indian Ocean this month, India says nearest Chinese Navy force is on routine duty in the Gulf of Aden.

New Delhi: There has been no deployment of Chinese warships near the island nation of the Maldives that is currently facing a constitutional crisis, sources in the Indian Navy have said. They have denied reports from Beijing that close to a dozen combatants have entered the Indian Ocean.

The Indian side, which has been keeping a close watch on the Maldives since emergency rule was declared earlier this month, is tracking all Chinese naval movements in the Indian Ocean, and has not found any abnormal or alarming deployments yet.

“At present, the 28th Anti-Piracy Escort Force (APEF) of the Chinese Navy is deployed in the Gulf of Aden. This consists of three warships that are conducting routine missions, as has been the case in the past. They came about four weeks ago,” sources told ThePrint.

Quoting the Chinese media, Reuters has reported that 11 Chinese warships sailed into the eastern Indian Ocean this month, linking it to the Maldivian crisis. Chinese reports described the deployment as consisting of frigates, amphibious ships and support tankers.

Sources tracking the movements, however, say that besides the three ships on the anti-piracy mission, the Chinese side has another three warships deployed in western Africa. These ships are part of the 27th APEF, which was relieved about four weeks ago.

In addition, five Chinese warships did enter the Indian Ocean region for a few days on what seemed like a regular patrol, but have since returned. These ships came in from the Java Sea and the Sunda Strait, and returned through the Lombok Strait, sources said.

“The Indian Navy has very clear visibility in the Indian Ocean Region, and there has been no account of unusual deployments. There are no unusual movements or deployments near the Maldives,” they said.

As reported by ThePrint, India has already activated its standard operating procedure (SOP) to keep troops on standby in case any intervention or assistance is needed. The Maldives nation has been put under emergency rule by President Abdulla Yameen, who suspended civil rights and arrested the top judiciary after an unfavourable decision to release all political prisoners.

If need be, Indian options for intervention include significant amphibious naval assets that can be deployed within a few hours’ notice, as well as an enhanced airlift capability that includes C-17 and C-130J Special Operations Aircraft, besides a range of rotary wing options.

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