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India’s Interest In South China Sea: Freedom Of Navigation

Discussion in 'National Politics' started by hoatle1, May 9, 2013.

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  1. hoatle1

    hoatle1 2nd Lieutant FULL MEMBER

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    India’s Interest In South China Sea: Freedom Of Navigation

    By Darshana M. Baruah

    [​IMG]

    The South China Sea (SCS) is major Sea Line of Communication (SLOC) and an important trade route. Conflict in the area concerns all Asian nations including India. Though India is not a claimant in the territorial disputes in the region, it holds an interest in the Freedom of Navigation (FON). China treats the SCS as its internal waters which invariable affects India’s interest. New Delhi has reiterated its stance on the “Freedom of Navigation†underlining the necessity for uninterrupted access to international waters. India must stand committed to its rhetoric on the FON and to defend its interests should the need arise. This in turn would involve deepening naval cooperation with the key countries of the ASEAN and major powers sharing India’s interest in defending the principle of FON. This article looks at India’s primary interest in the SCS in the context of growing Chinese assertiveness.

    Six nations (China, Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan, Brunei and Malaysia) have competing territorial claims over areas in the South China Sea (SCS). China lays claim on almost the entire SCS using a “U-shaped†or a “nine dotted line†in its map and regards the waters as its territorial sea. Recent tensions in the area have garnered global attention on the issue and it could emerge as a military flashpoint. This in turn has antagonised China, which has vigorously opposed internationalisation of the issue. China has refused any multilateral approach and has urged extra regional countries to stay out of its disputes with the neighbours. India, though a passive observer to the incidents so far, has its own stakes in the region. This article looks at India’s proclaimed interest in the ’Freedom of Navigation’ (FON) in the South China Sea.

    The Sea Lines of Communication (SLOCs) running through the South China Sea are of vital importance to all Asian nations including India. The Indian Navy has recognised the protection of the SLOC as one of its missions in the military role. The Indian Maritime Doctrine states that “In view of the nation’s heavy dependence on the seas for trade, protection of own SLOCs is an important mission of the INâ€. Political trouble in the South China Sea inevitably draws India’s attention as this affects its interest in the freedom of navigation.

    India has always maintained its stand on uninterrupted access to international waters and major SLOCs. It is in India’s national interest that the SLOCs in the SCS remain secure and stable given that 55 per cent of India’s trade transits through this route. India also has economic assets in Vietnam for which access to the SCS is vital. New Delhi’s growing concern toward maintaining peace and stability around SLOCs was voiced recently at the India-ASEAN commemorative summit in December 2012. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in his opening statement at the 2012 Summit stated that “As maritime nations, India and ASEAN nations should intensify their engagement for maritime security and safety, for freedom of navigation and for peaceful settlement of maritime disputes in accordance with international law.â€

    Although the dispute concerns only 6 nations, the fact that the area is in international waters draws global attention. Expressing concern, India’s former External Affairs Minister, S. M. Krishna stated India’s position thus: “India maintains that South China Sea is the property of the worldâ€. Krishna’s comment was met with strong opposition from Beijing. A commentary published in the Global Times newspaper opined that calling the “South China Sea a global property was a mistake†and that “other countries cannot describe one country’s territory as global propertyâ€. Beijing has maintained that FON is fully guaranteed on the SCS. However, this is in conflict with Beijing’s actions and laws which treat the SCS as its territorial waters.

    In accordance with international law, the limit of the territorial sea is set at 12 nautical miles. China claims sovereignty over most of the islands in the SCS as its territory. As such, its adjacent waters up to 12 nautical miles will be considered as China’s territorial sea. According to article 6 of China’s 1992 territorial law: “Foreign ships for non-military purposes shall enjoy the right of innocent passage through the territorial sea of the People’s Republic of China in accordance with the law†and that “Foreign ships for military purposes shall be subject to approval by the Government of the People’s Republic of China for entering the territorial sea of the People’s Republic of China.†In November 2012, it was reported that China has enabled its police to board and search ships which illegally enter what China considers its territory in the disputed waters. The move was heavily critised and caused consternation in the international community as it concerned the busy lanes of the South China Sea. There were two incidents with Indian vessels in the South China Sea hinting at Chinese assertiveness in claiming the SCS as its internal waters. The first was in July 2011, when INS Airavat was contacted on radio saying that it was “entering Chinese waters†while sailing on the South China Sea. Responding to the reports, the Ministry of External Affairs (India) released a statement on September 2011 explaining the incident. The statement read

    The Indian Naval vessel, INS Airavat paid a friendly visit to Vietnam between 19 to 28 July 2011. On July 22, INS Airavat sailed from the Vietnamese port of Nha Trang towards Hai Phong, where it was to make a port call. At a distance of 45 nautical miles from the Vietnamese coast in the South China Sea, it was contacted on open radio channel by a caller identifying himself as the “Chinese Navy†stating that “you are entering Chinese waters.

    The second incident was in June 2012, when the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) provided an unwelcomed escort to the Indian naval squadron led by INS Shivalik in the waters of the South China Sea. As reported, “Although the Indian ships were in international waters, a Chinese frigate sent a message “welcoming†the contingent to the South China Sea and sailed along for the next 12 hoursâ€. Analysing the situation, strategic expert Dr. C. Raja Mohan explained: “The message is this: “nice to see you here, but you are in our territorial waters and within them there is no right to ’freedom of navigation’ for military vessels. You are here at our sufferance.â€

    China’s attempt to levy its national laws on international waters is alarming to the international community. It is essential that all nations’ observer international laws and norms for free passage of vessels in international waters. India’s Defence Minister A.K Antony underlined the need to abide by international laws at the 2012 Shangri-La Dialogue. He emphasised that “Like individual freedoms, the fullness of maritime freedoms can be realised only when all states, big and small, are willing to abide by universally agreed laws and principlesâ€. S.M. Krishna, India’s then External Affairs Minister expressed similar views at the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF). Observing the vitality of SLOCs, the minister stated that “We have been following developments in respect to the South China Sea. As we had stated earlier, India supports freedom of navigation and access to resources in accordance with principles of international law. These principles should be respected by all.†Tensions in the region have heightened due to assertive and aggressive claims on the disputed islands. It is imperative that all nations follow the norms of international law to avoid conflict. India is keen to make its presence felt in the region and is willing to cooperate with the Southeast Asian countries to ensure maritime freedom.

    The Indian Navy plans periodic deployments in the South China Sea to mark its presence. It also engages in exercises with the navies of the Southeast Asian nations. India’s cooperation with the Southeast Asian nations is in keeping with its Look East Policy. India and ASEAN in December 2012 commemorated the 20th anniversary of the ASEAN-India Dialogue Relations. The Summit saw the adoption of the vision statement, an important development in the India-ASEAN relations. The vision statement marked India and the ASEAN nations’ commitment to ensure FON. The statement read “We are committed to strengthening cooperation to ensure maritime security and freedom of navigation, and safety of sea lanes of communication for unfettered movement of trade in accordance with international law, including UNCLOSâ€.

    India’s stance in the South China Sea is clear: there should be no obstruction of FON in international waters. Overriding international norms in these waters will further escalate the disputes adversely affecting the FON. New Delhi must stand committed to its rhetoric on the FON and to defend its interests should the need arise. This in turn would involve deepening naval cooperation with the key countries of the ASEAN and major powers sharing India’s interest in defending the principle of FON.


    India's Interest In South China Sea: Freedom Of Navigation - Analysis Eurasia Review
     
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  2. Virajith

    Virajith Captain SENIOR MEMBER

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    Why isn't SCS a Global property. It's a issue not between just 2 nations
    6 countries directly involved in it and other nations involved in it through FON.
    So, Global nations are claiming on it therefore it will be a Global propety :evilgrin:
     
  3. Virajith

    Virajith Captain SENIOR MEMBER

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  4. Himanshu Pandey

    Himanshu Pandey Don't get mad, get even. STAR MEMBER

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    china is opening too many fronts... or they have something in their sleeves or going to do the mistake of nazies
     
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  5. hoatle1

    hoatle1 2nd Lieutant FULL MEMBER

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    I have seen this news on TV, but many people believed that this technology is not better than Remote Control Airplanes, which are sold everywhere. It is better because installed a camera, the operator can control when view on monitor.
    The control signal is directly to the Airplane, not through satellite, so the operation range is within 100 Km.

    The source of your mention thread is here: Vietnam successfully tests first unmanned aircraft | Tu?i Tr? news
     
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  6. brahmos_ii

    brahmos_ii Major SENIOR MEMBER

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    India supports the freedom of navigation in accordance with the principles of international laws, Defence Minister A.K. Antony said Thursday and offered to discuss with Thailand possible areas of cooperation in defence producution.

    According to an official release, Antony - who met Thai Defence Minister Air Chief Marshal Sukumpol Suwanatat in Bangkok -- said that India has developed a well-established defence industry that can meet varying requirements of Thai armed forces.

    Antony said both India and Thailand have a large stake in maintenance of peace and stability in the immediate neighbourhood and in the wider Asia-Pacific region.

    He said security of sea lanes and freedom of navigation was critical to economic and overall security and called upon countries to exercise restraint and resolve issues diplomatically according to principles of international law.

    "India supports the freedom of navigation in accordance with the principles of international law. Our view is that peace and stability is in the interest of all countries in the region," he said.

    "We support the resolution of differences and disputes through the process of dialogue and consensus between the parties to such disputes. All countries must exercise restraint and resolve issues diplomatically, according to the principles of international law", Antony added.

    He said New Delhi has been of the consistent view that ASEAN was central to any security architecture for the region.

    "India is committed to efforts of ADMM Plus (ASEAN Defence Ministers Meeting), ARF (ASEAN Regional Forum) and the East Asia Summit for promoting dialogue and consensus building among all countries of the region," he said.

    He said India would welcome the visit of Thai teams to its various defence production facilities.

    Antony said conscious planning, hard work by Indian scientists and support by the government is resulting in the growth of a strong defence industrial base in the country.

    The release said the talks between the two ministers covered a wide range of issues, including regional security concerns.

    Indian Defence News - India supports freedom of navigation, says Antony
     
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