NEW DELHI: Two Indian warships will be taking part in China’s international fleet review (IFR), as part of the continuing efforts to step-up bilateral military ties after the temporary freeze due to the 73-day troop stand-off at Doklam in 2017. Indigenously-built guided-missile destroyer INS Kolkata and fleet tanker INS Shakti, which are on an annual overseas deployment to the contentious South China Sea where China is locked in territorial disputes with its neighbours, will arrive at the Chinese port city of Qingdao on Saturday. “Our warships, during their stay in the harbour, will be open for visits by officials of the People’s Liberation Army-Navy (PLAN) and local populace to showcase India’s naval prowess and ship-building capability. There will also be interactions with personnel from other navies participating in the IFR, which is being held as part of PLAN’s 70th anniversary celebrations,” said Navy spokesperson Captain D K Sharma. “The warships will then sail on Monday evening to participate in the naval parade of ships, which is scheduled to be reviewed by Chinese President Xi Jinping on Tuesday,” he added. Interestingly, the two Indian warships held an exercise with Vietnamese warships off the Cam Ranh Bay while on their way to China. In accordance with its “Act East” policy, India is steadily cranking up defence cooperation with Asean countries like Singapore, Vietnam, Myanmar, Malaysia and Indonesia by providing military facilities and training as well as conducting regular exercises with them. India, of course, is also trying to counter the deep maritime links China has forged with eastern Africa countries as well as Seychelles, Mauritius, Maldives, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Cambodia, among others in the Indian Ocean Region. As for China, India has increased its military interactions and exchanges with the PLA, which includes resumption of their annual “Hand-in-Hand” combat exercise, after the post-Doklam thaw. Though the two sides are yet to “operationalize” the pending top-level hotline between their militaries, they have worked towards better implementation of confidence-building measures along the line of actual control, additional border personnel meeting points and greater interaction between local commanders on the ground. Making sense of 2019 #ElectionswithtimesView Full Coverage