PANAJI: Aggressive and expansionist behaviour in the Asia Pacific region can spark a crisis and trigger a fresh arms race, said defence secretary Ajay Kumar here on Monday. In a subtle hint at China, Kumar said that India will oppose attempts of aggression and to deter expansionist moves both on land and the sea.
Kumar, who was speaking at the Goa Maritime Conclave on ‘Maritime Security & Emerging Non-Traditional Threats’, said that free, open and inclusive oceans are important for all nations to achieve high growth.
“While we talk of non-traditional threats, we cannot ignore the impact of expansion at an unprecedented speed of conventional navy in the Pacific,” said Kumar in his address to the naval chiefs and heads of maritime forces from 12 Indian Ocean countries.
“We are also witnessing enhancement of certain maritime presence and passages in our region, which may not be always be innocent. The negative effects of such rapid expansion are felt far beyond the Pacific. Though it is early to conclude, such expansion has potential to trigger others to acquire additional capabilities and thus start a new genre of arms race,” said Kumar.
Naval officials and policy makers from Bangladesh, Comoros, Indonesia, Madagascar, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritius, Myanmar, Seychelles, Singapore, Sri Lanka and Thailand are participating in the Goa Maritime Conclave.
Chief of the Indian Navy, Admiral Karambir Singh echoed the concerns and said it is time to challenge hostile nations that hinder passage or undertake aggressive posturing that threaten overall regional security.
“If there is any action by any country, which is inimical to the free, open and inclusive Indian Pacific or Indian Ocean region, then we have to act. That country has to be called out and said, okay, this is not correct,” said Singh while speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the conclave.
He said that the Indian Navy continues to keep a close watch on suspicious vessels operating close to Indian shores in the garb of fishing or scientific research.
China is spying on Indian Naval bases in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) by deploying surveillance vessels in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands while its fishing vessels have also been fishing in protected waters of other nations, he added.

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