Four Chinese spy ships enter Indian Ocean Region amid speculation of India’s missile test

Team India Sentinels Saturday 23rd of March 2024 04:31 PM

Chinese spy ship Da Yang Hao. (Photo: X/@PDChina)

New Delhi: In a recent development, open-source maritime tracking data has revealed the presence of at least four Chinese research vessels in the Indian Ocean Region. This comes ahead of India’s expected ballistic-missile test followed by its recent MIRV-capable Agni V ICBM test.

The vessels include the Da Yang Hao, one of China’s most advanced survey ships, which is also described as a “floating laboratory”. The ship, which began its active life in July 2019, has joined three other Chinese survey ships that have taken strategic positions in the Indian Ocean and the Bay of Bengal.

Chinese spy ship Da Yang Hao seen near the Sunda Strait entering the IOR into the Bay of Bengal, at around 9.30pm, March 23, 2024. (Source: MaritimeTraffic)

The Xiang Yang Hong-03 has been conducting “oceanographic surveys” for several weeks now and has docked twice at the Maldives’ capital, Male, as India Sentinels reported earlier. Another vessel, the Xiang Yang Hong-01, has been prowling about the Bay of Bengal for several days now. The Yuan Wang-03, described by Beijing’s mouthpiece China’s Global Times as a “space-tracking ship” that monitors missile launches, was spotted entering the Sunda Strait, an entry point from the Java Sea into the Indian Ocean.

These developments have raised concerns as India gears up to test another nuclear ballistic missile in the coming weeks. The Indian Navy said it is closely monitoring the activities of all four vessels.

This is not the first time Chinese vessels have been spotted in the region. In the past, they have been known to pick up acoustic signatures of submarines and monitor missile test firings. It may be recalled that another Chinese spy ship, Yuan Wang-05, entered the IOR just days ahead of a scheduled missile test by India over the Bay of Bengal, in December 2022, as India Sentinels had reported then.

Notably, India reportedly cancelled a December 2022 missile test in view of the Chinese spy ship’s presence.

The presence of these ships in the IOR has sparked questions about their intentions and destinations, especially as India gets ready to hold missile-testing operations. The Chinese vessels’ movements coincide with India’s declaration of a flight restriction zone over the Bay of Bengal.

India has historically viewed these research vessels with suspicion, believing them to be gathering intelligence on its military activities. The presence of the ships near or in the Bay of Bengal, where India often conducts missile tests, strengthens this view.

China maintains the vessels are for legitimate research purposes, aligning with their goal of becoming a “strong maritime country”. They are equipped with advanced technology for gathering oceanographic data, but their presence near sensitive Indian military installations raises questions about their true intentions.

The current situation continues to be closely watched by international observers.


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