Despite the friendliness between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping, India has reservations to include Chinese Navy in maritime exercises even though the armies of the two countries will be participating in military drills later this month.
Indian Navy Chief Admiral Karambir Singh made it clear that only "like-minded" countries will be part of the upcoming Milan Exercise for which the Indian Navy has sent invites to 41 countries.
He said this while answering a question on why China was not invited for the drill to be held in March 2020 to be hosted by the Indian Navy.
To a specific question why China was being left out despite the cooperation in all fields envisaged by Modi and Jinping, Admiral Singh said, "This is beyond my pay grade."
He made it clear that Chinese activities in the Indian Ocean Region started in 2008 and have enhanced their presence ever since.
Another senior Naval officer who did not wish to be named said, "We do not want to give the Chinese Navy any legitimacy for their presence close to our waters."
China's expansion in the waters is what makes the Indian Navy wary of its inclusion in joint exercises.
In September, a Chinese vessel close to the Indian waters was asked to go back after it was suspected to be on a spying mission.
India has sent invitations to Indonesia, France, Mozambique, Sudan, Israel, Qatar, Thailand, Malaysia, Australia, Somalia, Kenya, Egypt, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Myanmar, New Zealand, USA, Tanzania, Comoros, Maldives, Brunei, Philippines, Japan, UK, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Mauritius, Cambodia, Singapore, South Korea, South Africa, Kuwait, Iran, Madagascar, Bangladesh, Russia, Djibouti, Eritrea, Bahrain, UAE and Seychelles.
China has been expanding its naval operations in the Indian Ocean Region and the Indian Navy is aware of its growing maritime prowess. They have been shifting a lot of resources from other arms to the Navy, keeping in line with their aim of becoming a global power.
Admiral Singh also said that 7-8 Chinese ships are always present in the Indian Ocean Region either for scientific researches or anti-piracy missions.
India has been forging tactful partnerships with friendly countries to control the Chinese influence in waters, officials said.