Countering China’s objections on its oil exploration projects in the South China Sea, India on Friday said the region must be freed from any “national interference”.
“India maintains that South China Sea is the property of the world. I think those trade-ways must be free from any national interference,” External Affairs Minister S. M. Krishna told reporters while replying to a question.
Notwithstanding the Chinese warning, Mr. Krishna said the area should be used for increasing trade-related activities amongst nations which come within the rim of the South China Sea.
“This has been accepted by the ASEAN countries and by China in their dialogue with ASEAN group of nations. So I think India subscribes to the theory that these trade-ways should be free ways for trade to prosper,” he said.
China has been objecting to any activity in South China Sea region including Indian oil exploration as it has territorial disputes with ASEAN countries like Vietnam and the Philippines.
Ahead of Chinese President Hu Jintao’s visit to New Delhi last month, a top Foreign Ministry official had warned India to refrain from undertaking oil exploration in the area in order to ensure “peace and stability” in the area.
India in October last year had inked an agreement with Vietnam to expand and promote oil exploration in South China Sea. The pact between the Indian and Vietnamese state-owned oil companies includes new investments and the exploration and supply of oil and gas to the two countries.
Asked whether the Sino-India relationship is under strain, Mr. Krishna said “there is absolutely no strained relationship between China and India.”
“Very recently during the BRICS summit President Hu Jintao was in Delhi and we had very very cordial talks with him and I totally reject that theory,” he said.