As maritime tensions intensify between China and Philippines, four Indian warships are now on a goodwill visit to the latter nation in what is being interpreted as a subtle message to Beijing. Coming shortly after Defence Minister A.K. Antony's visit to Singapore, Thailand and Australia, preceded by PM Manmohan Singh's visit to Japan and Thailand, the Indian Navy's maritime diplomatic mission is seen to be topping off goodwill and ties in the Indian Ocean as a counter to China's growing assertiveness in the maritime domain.
After a previous stop in Vietnam, also a nation facing off with China in the maritime sphere, the four Indian ships—guided missile destroyer INS Ranvijay, guided missile stealth frigate INS Satpura, Kora-class guided missile corvette INS Kirch and fleet replenishment tanker INS Shakti—docked in Manila on a five-day visit. Under the command of Flag Officer Commanding (Eastern Fleet) Rear Admiral P. Ajit Kumar, the fleet will be in Philippines when the Indian Navy's Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Eastern Naval Command, Vice Admiral Anil Chopra arrives in Manila for an official visit on June 15.