Delhi notes China’s Indian Ocean ‘interest’

Sri Dharanee Performance Arts Theatre

NEW DELHI, August 31, 2010 (AFP) – India on Tuesday said China was demonstrating “more than normal interest” in the Indian Ocean as two Chinese warships made a rare visit to military-ruled Myanmar. India is watchful of China’s growing presence in the region, including its major investments in ports being built in Sri Lanka and Pakistan.

The Chinese ships docked in Yangon on Sunday afternoon and were set to launch a series of exchanges with Myanmar’s navy, Xinhua news agency reported.

“India has come to realise that China has been showing more than the normal interest in the Indian Ocean affairs. So we are closely monitoring the Chinese intentions,” Foreign Minister S.M. Krishna told parliament.

He did not make direct reference to the Chinese ships, but China is a key ally and trading partner of the junta that has ruled Myanmar since 1962.

China buys teak and gems from Myanmar and has shielded it from UN sanctions over rights abuses as a veto-wielding, permanent member of the Security Council.

India also looks to Myanmar for potential oil and gas imports and was criticised by rights monitors for hosting reclusive junta leader Than Shwe on a state visit to New Delhi in June.