I Have Never Said China is More Powerful: Navy Chief

New Delhi
I Have Never Said China is More Powerful: Navy Chief
Seeking to straighten out his recent remarks on China, Navy Chief Admiral Sureesh Mehta today said he had "never" stated that Beijing was more powerful than New Delhi as was attributed to him in the media.

"I have never said that China is more powerful than us. What I said is that for numbers to numbers, we don't want to compete (with them). May be we are better without having those numbers," he said.

He was addressing a farewell press conference before demitting office on August 31.

Mehta'a clarification followed his remarks earlier this month that "India neither had the capability nor the intention" to match Chinese military capabilities.

He said these remarks were made in a particular context.

When asked about the threat posed by the Chinese naval bases coming up around India and whether China wanted to encircle India, he said, "India is a big country and it would be very difficult to do so. As their (Chinese) Navy comes from far away to this region, they need to build bases, which is known as shaping the maritime environment."

In the recent past, China has set up bases in Hamabantota in Sri Lanka and Gwadar in Pakistan, which is seen as Beijing's attempt to encircle India.

Asked if India had any intention of setting up an overseas base, Mehta said, "it is neither the policy of the government nor the intention".

Acknowledging China as a power in the region, he said countries have to be present in the Indian Ocean Rim (IOR) to protect their maritime trade and added that every country had the right to be here, if it suited its national interest.

On the increased presence of the US Navy in the region, Mehta said, "it doesn't in any way hinder our national interests or our way of working out our deployments".
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