The Indian Navy is using its American origin P-8I spy planes to track seven Chinese warships operating in and around the Indian Ocean, reported news agency ANI.
Pictures taken by the surveillance planes show the Chinese Landing Platform Dock Xian-32 (an amphibious ship) passing through the southern Indian Ocean and entering Sri-Lankan waters.
"They are being constantly monitored during their presence in the Indian Ocean when they pass closer to Indian exclusive economic zone and territorial waters," sources told the news agency.
WHAT ARE CHINESE SHIPS DOING HERE?
The LPD and six other Chinese ships, part of their counter-piracy escort task forces 32 and 33, are reportedly making their way to the Gulf of Aden which, together with the Red Sea, separates the Middle East from Africa.
China reportedly deploys six to seven ships in the gulf at all times to “carry out anti-piracy drills” since 2008.
However, the sources told ANI that the main aim of the Chinese People's Liberation Army's Navy (PLAN) in deploying these vessels appears to be projecting power in the Indian Ocean and the gulf as a majority of their trade passes through the area. It also operates a naval base in Djibouti for protecting its trade interests.
The Chinese Navy is also building its third aircraft carrier to exert power at distant shores, sources told the news agency.