Chennai: The Indian Navy on Monday said that the Chinese presence in the Indian Ocean Region has increased in recent years and they were 'cautiously observing' it.

Flag Officer Commanding, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry Naval Area, Rear Admiral Alok Bhatnagar NM stated this while addressing reporters to announce the celebrations for the Indian Navy Day observed on December 4 every year.

"The Chinese presence in the Indian Ocean Region has increased over the recent years. The good part is that we are aware of it. We know their movements in the region and we are observing it cautiously, he said.

“The Chinese have the right to be in any part of the world like we have," Bhatnagar said.

When asked if the Navy was equipped to face any threat from the Chinese in the IOR, he said the capabilities of the Indian Navy are mission-based and not targeted against any country.

"Over the years, the Indian Navy has developed its force based on a mission. Our capabilities are mission-based and not targeted against any country. Whenever we are given a mission, we will be able to accomplish it," he said.

On the expansion of the naval base in Chennai, Bhatnagar said the talks with the Tamil Nadu government were in an advanced stage and hoped for complete support from them.

"We are in the advanced stage of consultation. We are confident of complete support of the state government for alloting us the much-required land for infrastructure augmentation," he said.

On talks with the Sri Lankan Navy and Coast Guard that are likely to be held in May 2019, Bhatnagar said that these are centered around smuggling of contraband goods, counterfeit currency, and other illegal activities.

"Besides, we will put forth before Sri Lanka, the concerns of the Indian fishermen and tell the island nation not to harm them when they cross maritime limits accidentally," he said.

The Navy Day is observed every year to commemorate its victory in the Indo-Pak war in 1971.

The theme for this year is 'Indian Navy, mission-deployed and combat-ready.' 

As part of the celebration, medical and blood donation camps, wreath-laying ceremony, visits to ships, coastal clean-up activities, among others, are conducted during the month.

With PTI inputs