Eleven Chinese warships sailed into the East Indian Ocean this month, a Chinese news portal said, amid the ongoing political crisis in the Maldives now under a state of emergency.
A fleet of destroyers and at least one frigate, a 30,000-tone amphibious transport dock and three support tankers entered the Indian Ocean, news portal Sina.com.cn said, without linking the deployment to the crisis in the Maldives or giving a reason.
“If you look at warships and other equipment, the gap between the Indian and Chinese navy is not large,” Sina.com.cn said on Sunday.
It did not say when the fleet was deployed or for how long.
Tensions have been high between China and India over the crisis in the Maldives.
The island nation has been embroiled in fresh political turmoil after the Supreme Court on February 1 ordered the immediate release of jailed political leaders including self-exiled former president Mohamed Nasheed.
President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom had declared a 15 day state of emergency after his last ditch attempt to convince the top court to revoke the order failed as the apex court rejected the government's 'legal and judicial' concerns over the order.
Nasheed has led the opposition calls for India's military intervention in the Maldives, but China has indirectly warned India to leave Maldives to handle its own affairs.
President Yameen amid the crisis singled out China, Saudi Arabia and Russia as Maldives' closest friends as he established strong relations with the global superpower since assuming office much to the dismay of India.
He has now sought parliamentary approval to extend the state of emergency by another 30 days.
President Yameen has used the rights suspended under emergency state to crackdown hard on the opposition as police have made a series of high profile arrests including former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, three lawmakers, chief justice Abdulla Saeed, top court judge Ali Hameed and the chief judicial administrator.
Less than a day after the arrest of the two judges, the remaining three judges rescinded its ruling to release the political leaders referring to the concerns raised by president Yameen in the letters he had sent to the chief justice hours before state of emergency was declared.
The top court had not rescinded the part of the order which quashed its anti-defection ruling ordering the country's electoral watchdog to re-instate the dozen government lawmakers disqualified over the ruling which the government had not even contested.
However, the Supreme Court late Sunday revealed that the country's Attorney General has now filed a constitutional dispute seeking to annul the remaining part of the February 1 order which had been signed by the full top court bench.
The remaining three judge bench has asked the parliament along with the elections commission to hold off on reinstating the dozen lawmakers until it decides on the case.