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From the Andamans to Bhutan, India sends stern message to China

Indian tri-service forces have just concluded “kavach” exercise in the Andamans

Over the past week India has been sending several messages to China of military preparedness along the maritime domain and land borders.

China is bound to notice these moves, as they will be interpreted as India’s dismissive response to Beijing’s attempt to challenge India’s sovereignty over parts of Arunachal Pradesh.

In the maritime domain, India on Friday concluded a tri-service   exercise codenamed “kavach” involving assets of the Indian Army, Indian Navy, Indian Air Force (IAF) and the Indian Coast Guard (ICG). More significantly, the manoeuvres took place in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

The Chinese are well aware of the significance of India’s show of strength in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Essentially, it means that while Chinese troops are mobilised along the land border, New Delhi is honing its skills to impede Chinese maritime shipping, should exceptional circumstances merit such a course of action.

The Chinese know that India is well positioned to exercise control over the 10 degree and 6-degree channels which pass through the Andaman and Nicobar Island chain. The 10-degree channel that separates the Andaman Islands from the Nicobar is a popular route of international shipping as it passes through the Indian Ocean and enters the South China Sea—a part of the Pacific Ocean—through the Malacca straits.

The 6-degree channel is even more important for international trade and commerce. Unsurprisingly, India is beefing up security near Indira Point along this “Great Channel”.

Not far from Indira Point is South Bay where India is fast-tracking construction of a world-class trans-shipment hub.

Located on the eastern wing of the Great Nicobar Island, it will string with other mega-sized deepwater trans-shipment ports – Dubai, Colombo, Klang in Malaysia, and Singapore — along the great east-west shipping route.

If media reports are to be believed the Andaman and Nicobar Islands have also been connected to the Fish hook underwater system of the United States and Japan. This is bad news for China.

According to the website resonantnews.com is reporting that by joining the much-speculated US-Japan “fish-hook” SOSUS (sound surveillance sensors chain) in the Andaman-Nicobar Islands, India joins a phalanx that monitors movement of Chinese submarines loitering in the Andaman Sea and the South China sea.


SOSUS is a sonar system which came into existence when the US Navy was looking for a solution to counter submarine warfare. In 1951, the US experimented its first array of hydrophones to target a submarine, it was originally laid to deter Soviet submarines. But now a more sophisticated SOSUS, also called fish-hook (due to its shape and purpose) has replaced the older one, to track the PLAN (People’s Liberation Army Navy, China) ships and submarines. This comprises arrays of hydrophones and magnetic anomaly detectors on the seabed, which work in coordination with maritime reconnaissance aircrafts to enable a multi-tier ASW (anti-submarine warfare) system.

By repeatedly challenging India on the land borders and expanding its footprint in the Indian Ocean, the Chinese are tempting India to link the Andaman and Nicobar Islands with the triple “island chain” strategy of the United States.

Historically, the emergence of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in 1949 and the onset of the Cold War, led John Foster Dulles, a former US Secretary of State, to develop the “island chain strategy” of besieging China and the former Soviet Union from the sea. Dulles’s doctrine, aired during the heat of the Korean War in the early fifties, had three layers.

Of the three island chains, the “first island chain” was the most important. The lengthy network starts from Kamchatka peninsula in Russia’s Far East and weaves its way into Japan. Then, from the southernmost part of the Japanese mainland, it passes through Okinawa, a part of a larger Ryukyu Island chain which ends with Taiwan. From Taiwan, the “first island chain” heads towards the Philippines and the island of Borneo, before looping towards the tip of the Malay Peninsula. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the first island chain has begun to increasingly focus on China.


Now, the Andaman and Nicobar can become a natural extension of the first island chain.

Besides, India can also have fourth and fifth island chains that are in the works. The proposed fourth chain would include Lakshadweep, the Maldives and Diego Garcia.

The fifth chain would originate further west from Camp Lemonnier in the Gulf of Aden, curve around the Horn of Africa. Then moving   along the entire East African coastline through the Mozambique Channel (between Mozambique and Madagascar) and heads towards South Africa. The big idea is acquiring a capacity to encircle  the Chinese naval base at Doraleh, Djibouti too impede China’s trade with Africa.[

Living in denial and blinded by hubris, the Chinese have apparently failed to notice that New India has intent, and is vigilant. The Hindustan Times has reported that India is monitoring Chinese aided activity in the nearby Coco Islands of Myanmar and at Ream national park in Cambodia near a naval base in Sihanoukville province.

New Delhi is also keeping vigil on Chinese activity at the Hambantota port in Sri Lanka, Gwadar in Balochistan, Chabahar in Iran and at Khalifa port in UAE apart from Djibouti. The daily said that the Myanmar junta had extended and widened the runway at Coco Island strip from 1300 to 2300 meters as well as constructed sheds in 2021-2022 with transport aircraft operating from the strip for supplying the island, just 55 km north of Indian AN islands. While there is no permanent presence of Chinese on Coco Islands, they are frequently seen on the remote Myanmar outpost with some 150 Myanmar personnel posted on Coco.


On the land borders, India, earlier this week green-lighted urgent development of a 57 kilometres rail link between Kokrajhar (Assam) and Gelephu in Bhutan. New Delhi has stepped up infrastructure development after the Doklam standoff with China in 2017 along the LAC with focus on Bhutan, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh in order to deter a belligerent China.

Also Read: Massive joint services exercise in Andaman sends a strong message to China