Antony: China Gwadar work is a worry

Defence minister A.K. Antony became the first minister in the UPA government to admit that China taking over the operations of Gwadar, the strategically located port in Pakistan, that overlooks a key oil shipping corridor in the Gulf, was a matter of concern for India.

Gwadar port, was handed over to state-run Chinese Overseas Port Holdings last week after previously being managed by Singapore’s PSA International, giving the Chinese, entry to the Arabian Sea and the Gulf.
“The Chinese are now constructing that port on Pakistan’s request. In one sentence, I can say that it is a matter of concern to us. My answer is simple and straightforward,” the defence minister said, speaking on the sidelines of Aero India 2013 which opened here on Wednesday.
The minister, however, declined to elaborate on whether more armed forces would be deployed along the west coast in the light of China taking over the port, which together with Hambantota in Sri Lanka and Chittagong in Bangladesh completes the Chinese “string of pearls” encircling India.
Mr Antony pointed out that though bilateral talks with China were progressing well, the Indian government was strengthening its armed forces along its eastern border in the light of reports that infrastructure was being boosted on the other side of the border. “We cannot complain about upgrade of infrastructure (by China), but there’s no slackening on our side. It is only a state of preparedness (on the part of armed forces). It is not for confrontation,” he added. The minister noted the presence of a Chinese delegation for the first time at the Bengaluru air show, terming it a “welcome step” as both countries were trying to improve relations. When asked about India’s preparedness to deal with the situation post 2014 when American troops’ drawdown from Af-Pak region, Mr Antony said, “even before the Afghan pullout, the geopolitical situation around us has been very critical, and government is aware of it and we are taking steps to meet any eventuality. The pullout by US and others from there 2014 onwards is a matter of serious concern to us. We are taking sufficient steps to safeguard our security,” he said.

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