New Delhi, Dec 3 (PTI) Navy Chief Admiral Karambir Singh on Tuesday said a Chinese naval ship was driven away from India's Exclusive Economic Zone in the Andaman sea recently, asserting that such activities will be dealt with sternly.
Military sources said the research ship Shi Yan 1 forayed into Indian waters in September but was forced to retreat after it was suspected to be involved in spying.
The ship entered the area without Indian Navy's prior permission, they said.
'Our stand has been that if you do anything in our region, you have to notify us or take our permission,' the Navy Chief said at a press conference without elaborating further on the incident.
The sources said the ship was found carrying out some research activities in the Indian waters.
On China's increasing forays into the Indian Ocean Region, Admiral Singh said seven to eight Chinese ships are usually present in region at any point of time.
Since 2008, there has been a permanent presence of the Chinese Navy in the Indian Ocean region, mostly in the form of an anti-piracy escort force.
'It is a fact that they are present (in the Indian Ocean Region). There are oceanographic research vessels which are operating. They have been given certain areas for deep sea mining. On an average 7-8 Chinese ships are available in this area,' said the Navy Chief.
There have been considerable concerns in India over China's growing presence in the region. India has been trying to expand maritime cooperation with countries of the region including Sri Lanka, Maldives, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, Myanmar and Singapore, primarily with an aim to check Chinese assertiveness.
Asked why China has not been invited to the Milan maritime exercises along with 41 other countries, the Navy Chief said only like-minded nations will be part of it.
In response to a question on the 'Quad' --comprising the US, India, Australia an Japan-- being seen as a step to contain China, he said the grouping does not have a military role at the moment.
Indian Navy will play a stabilising role in the Indo-Pacific region.
On maritime cooperation with neighbouring countries, Admiral Singh said from a conservative figure of eight exercises in 2015, the Navy is now participating in close to 30 bilateral and multilateral exercises.
'In addition, under the government of India's overall ambit of 'Neighbourhood First' policy, the Navy also undertook Joint EEZ patrols of Maldives, Seychelles and Mauritius as well as coordinated patrols with Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand and Indonesia,' he said. PTI MPB ZMN