Bejing/New Delhi, Aug 4 (FN Agency) Amid China’s increasing assertiveness in the South China Sea, India on Wednesday stressed that the Code of Conduct in the sea bordering Southeast Asian nations should be fully consistent with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar, addressing the 11th East Asia Summit Foreign Ministers Meeting virtually highlighted the growing convergence of approaches on the Indo-Pacific among different members. In a series of Tweets, Jaishankar said, “Addressed the 11th EAS Foreign Ministers Meeting today.
“Highlighted the growing convergence of approaches on Indo-Pacific among different members. “Stressed that Code of Conduct on the South China Sea should be fully consistent with UNCLOS 1982. Should not prejudice legitimate rights and interests of nations not a party to discussions.” His remarks come as the Indian Navy has deployed ships to the South China Sea as part of India’s Act East policy. “In pursuit of the Act East policy and to enhance military cooperation with friendly countries, a Task Force of Indian Navy’s Eastern Fleet is scheduled to proceed on an overseas deployment to South East Asia, the South China Sea, and Western Pacific from early August 2021 for over two months,” the Indian Navy said in an official statement on Monday.
The Indian Naval task group comprises Guided Missile Destroyer Ranvijay, Guided Missile Frigate Shivalik, Anti-Submarine Corvette Kadmatt, and Guided Missile Corvette Kora. The ships are to participate in bilateral exercises with the Vietnamese Peoples’ Navy, the Philippines Navy, the Singapore Navy (SIMBEX), the Indonesian Navy (Samudra Shakti), and the Australian Navy (AUS-INDEX). The ships will also participate in multilateral exercise MALABAR-21 with the Japanese Navy, the Australian Navy, and the US Navy in the Western Pacific. Territorial and maritime disputes along the South China Sea, involving China and Southeast Asian nations, including Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei, and the Philippines, have remained unresolved for many years.
The countries say that China has been encroaching on their sovereign territories and Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs) with its aggressive land reclamation and island-building activities in the South China Sea. China has been conducting military surveillance in the islands that it has built on reefs in the Sea and is building communications and logistics infrastructure in the form of port facilities, military installations, and airstrips. Meanwhile, US Vice President Kamala Harris is to visit Vietnam and Singapore later this month with a focus on defending international rules in the South China Sea, strengthening US regional leadership, and expanding security cooperation.