Admiral D K Joshi, recently promoted to head the Indian Navy, today said India is prepared to send armed ships to the South China seas if it is considered necessary to protect the country's oil interests in the region.
"When the requirement is there - in situations where our country's interests are involved, for example ONGC [the state-controlled oil explorer] ... we will be required to go there and we are prepared for that," Joshi told newspersons at the annual Navy Day function in New Delhi.
"Now, are we preparing for it? Are we having exercises of that nature? The short answer is yes," he said in reply to a question. ''The modernisation of the Chinese navy is truly impressive ... it is a major cause of concern for us, which we continuously evaluate and work out our options and our strategies," he said.
His statements seem to be in slight contrast with the views of Admiral Nirmal Verma, his predecessor as Navy chief.
Talking about attempt by the US to involve India in the territorial disputes in the South China Sea, Adm Verma had said in September: ''From our perspective the primary areas of interest to us is from the Malacca Strait to the (Persian/Arabian) Gulf in the west, and to the Cape of Good Hope in the south … the Pacific and the South China Sea are of concern to us, but activation in those areas is not on the cards.''
Adm Joshi, however, said that India had interests like free navigation and exploitation of natural resources in those seas.