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The rescue operation was seen as brief respite in recently strained bilateral tensions, with China in recent days hitting out at India and summoning its envoy in Beijing over the Dalai Lama’s on-going visit to Arunachal Pradesh.

China on Monday ignored the Indian Navy’s role in what was a joint anti-piracy rescue operation this weekend in the Gulf of Aden, only mentioning the Chinese Navy’s role in aiding a hijacked vessel.

The joint rescue operation, reported Sunday, was seen as brief respite in recently strained bilateral tensions, with China in recent days hitting out at India and summoning its envoy in Beijing over the Dalai Lama’s on-going visit to Arunachal Pradesh.

Yet even this joint operation, seen as a sign of two countries working together, has generated conflicting reports on two sides of the border. The Indian Navy had said that the INS Mumbai, INS Tarkash, INS Trishul and INS Aditya that were on deployment to the Mediterranean had responded to a distress call from a Tuvalu-registered ship that was boarded by pirates.

The Indian Navy said its helicopters provided air cover while the PLA Navy vessel Yulin sent a stem of 18 personal to sanitise the ship.

CHINA MAKES NO MENTION OF INDIAN NAVY’S ROLE

China, however, has made no mention of the Indian Navy’s role and suggested its helicopters were involved in reconnaissance.

A Defence Ministry statement carried by the official Xinhua News Agency simply said the PLA Navy had conducted reconnaissance and rescued the vessel.

When asked at a regular press briefing on India’s role, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying only repeated the statement, saying that on April 8 the 25th convoy fleet of the Chinese Navy conducting an escort mission in the Gulf of Aden had received a report from the United Kingdom Marine Trade Operations (UKMTO) about the hijack of the Tuvaluan ship.

“The vessel Yulin set off for the area immediately,” said Hua. “Under cover of helicopters, special forces members of the navy rescued the 18 members on board. We believe the aforementioned operation demonstrated the effectiveness of Chinese naval forces in fighting against piracy”.

Asked about India’s role in the operation, Hua said, “China is always open to international cooperation in combating pirates and ready for more cooperation in this regard”.

“The Chinese convoy,” she added, “received reports from the UK MTO and conducted the rescue operation. As I just said, the Chinese side is positive towards international cooperation against piracy. This position is very clear.”

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