SCS critical for peaceful development of Indo-Pacific: India

In this Monday, March 5, 2018, file photo, a Vietnamese passenger boat sails past U.S aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson as it docks in Danang Bay, Vietnam.   | Photo Credit: AP

“Vietnam is an important pillar of India’s Act East policy and a key partner for our vision of the Indo-Pacific,” said Vijay Thakur Singh, Secretary (East) in the Ministry of External Affairs, on Thursday, while stating that India’s presence in Vietnam’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) amplifies its position on the South China Sea (SCS).

Ms. Singh said the sea lanes of communication passing through the SCS are “critical” for peace, stability, prosperity and development of the Indo-Pacific region.

“On the Indo-Pacific, India has been clear in articulating its vision, which is an open, inclusive and rule-based region, and in that context, we feel that there is a critical importance of the SCS. Because it is an international waterway over which about $5 trillion worth trade flows and over 30% of supplies of international crude transits through these waters,” Ms. Thakur said, speaking at a discussion on three years of comprehensive strategic partnership between the two countries organised by the Vietnam Embassy, and the India Foundation, an independent think tank.

‘Rule based order’

Ms. Singh said it is therefore vital that there would be interest in the region to ensure freedom of navigation and overflight and unimpeded commerce in these “international waterways”. “We also believe that there should be a rule based order where there is respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, and there should be peaceful resolution of disputes and no threat of use of force,” she stated.

On the ongoing discussions in the region for Code of Conduct for the SCS, Ms. Singh said, “We hope that the Code of Conduct which is negotiated respects international laws, including the United Nations Convention on Law Of Seas (UNCLOS).”

Addressing the gathering later, Vietnamese Envoy Ambassador in India Pham Sanh Chau said Vietnam “highly appreciates India’s position on the SCS”.

In the last few months, Vietnam and China have been engaged in a stand-off in the SCS, in an area within the 200 nautical miles EEZ claimed by Vietnam. This is the biggest incident between the two countries after the May 2014 stand-off when China National Petroleum Corporation moved an oil platform into waters claimed by Vietnam.

Rich resources

Incidentally, the stand-off area is about 100 nautical miles away from Oil Block No. 06/1, where joint ventures for regular oil and gas production between Petro Vietnam, Russia’s Rosneft and India’s Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Limited have been in place for 17 years. Essar Oil, along with international partners, has recently made a major gas discovery in Vietnam’s EEZ.

China claims most of the SCS up to the nine-dash line, and the resource rich region has seen several confrontations over the years, with claims by many countries.

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Printable version | Jan 17, 2021 9:32:34 AM |

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