India right on 'no' to SCS patrol as it needs China’s support: Chinese daily

'Global Times' accuses U.S. of driving a wedge among Asian countries and further escalating regional tensions.

Updated - November 17, 2021 04:30 am IST

Published - March 01, 2016 05:48 pm IST - BEIJING:

A satellite image released by the Asian Maritime Transparency Initiative at Washington's Centre for Strategic and International Studies shows construction of possible radar tower facilities in the Spratly Islands in the disputed South China Sea in this image released on February 23, 2016. Recent satellite images show China may be installing a high-frequency radar system in the Spratly Islands that could significantly boost its ability control the disputed sea, a U.S. think-tank reported on Monday.

A satellite image released by the Asian Maritime Transparency Initiative at Washington's Centre for Strategic and International Studies shows construction of possible radar tower facilities in the Spratly Islands in the disputed South China Sea in this image released on February 23, 2016. Recent satellite images show China may be installing a high-frequency radar system in the Spratly Islands that could significantly boost its ability control the disputed sea, a U.S. think-tank reported on Monday.

India cannot afford to lose China’s support by joining the United States in patrolling the disputed South China Sea (SCS) as it needs Chinese help for economic growth and for success of BRICS, a state-run daily said on Tuesday.

In the second commentary within a week on the joint patrol issue, an article in the Global Times said: “The New Delhi government pursues pragmatic diplomacy and strives to reach a balance between the U.S. and China. Some interpret New Delhi’s refusal [to jointly patrol the SCS] as retaliation against Washington’s approval of weapon sales to Islamabad last year.”

“Economic engine for India’s growth”

“This may be true. Yet, the fundamental reason is that New Delhi understands the significance of a sound China-India relationship to the nation’s development. India cannot afford to lose China’s support, which serves as an economic engine for the nation’s growth.

“In addition, New Delhi has officially taken over the presidency of the BRICS [Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa] from Moscow last month and will host the eighth summit in a few months’ time. A friendly atmosphere is significant for the upcoming summit,” the article said. It has said conducting joint patrols in an attempt to court the U.S. in this backdrop is inappropriate. “By refusing the U.S. proposal, India is taking a stand and showing goodwill to China.”

Second such article

The commentary is the second such article in the daily. On February 26, it said: “Any move by India to join the U.S. Navy for jointly patrolling the disputed South China sea will be against its national interest and it would divide Asian countries and further escalate regional tensions.”

Chinese media’s reactions came after it was reported that the U.S. and India talked about launching joint naval patrols in the SCS to safeguard freedom of navigation. But soon India clarified there would be no such patrols and the U.S. also subsequently denied having any such plans.

China claims almost all of it

China claims almost all of the SCS, where several other Asian countries such as Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Brunei have overlapping claims.

Tuesday’s article also accused the U.S. of attempting to drive a wedge between India and Pakistan.

“U.S. driven by self-interest”

“Wary of India’s rise, the U.S. is attempting to instigate conflicts between New Delhi and Islamabad by approving the sale of F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan. New Delhi is wise to say no to Washington.

“The White House is just manoeuvring India for its own interests, and will not stop supporting Pakistan as a repay to India. The U.S. administration is following a ‘divide and rule’ policy,” it said.

“U.S. doesn’t want a stronger India”

From U.S. perspective, China, Russia and India are all threatening its status as a superpower. The U.S. does not want to see a stronger India, it said.

“In fact, the likelihood for India to station its naval forces in the SCS remains quite low. Yet, it may strengthen its military presence in the Indian Ocean. For instance, there is Indian Navy’s ambitious Project Seabird, which pursues the construction of facilities to berth the nation’s aircraft carriers,” the article said.

“India hobnobbing with Vietnam ok”

“In addition, it may also cooperate with Vietnam by selling equipment to Hanoi, conducting military drills, regularly visiting Hanoi’s ports, inspecting ships and so forth. Maintaining a close military bond with Vietnam conforms to India’s Act East strategy,” it said.

“Strengthening its military presence in the Asia-Pacific region is the ultimate purpose for the U.S. to propose U.S.-India joint naval patrols. Washington believes that Beijing, which has already broken through the first island chain, is challenging its maritime hegemony,” it said.

It is not about freedom of navigation

“Freedom of navigation is never an issue in the region. The White House is just finding excuses to enter the waters and even attempting to station its forces in Philippine naval bases,” it said.

“Apart from drawing countries outside the region, such as India, Japan, South Korea and Australia, the U.S. is also inciting SCS claimants to stir up trouble in the region. Over time, these countries will realise that it is the U.S., rather than China, that is militarising the South China Sea and destroying the peaceful and stable environment there,” it said.

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