China open to India’s constructive role in S. China Sea

China on Thursday said it was open to India’s “constructive and positive” role in cementing peace and stability in South China Sea, following nuanced remarks by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar in Kuala Lumpur where he linked an advocacy of “freedom of navigation” with the swift implementation a Code of Conduct in these waters.

“We hope that countries who really care about freedom of navigation in the South China Sea (SCS) can play (a) constructive and positive role” in peace and stability of the region, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Hua Chunying said in response to a question, related to Mr. Parrikar’s observations at the conference.

Freedom of navigation concerns

During his address at the Mr. Parrikar backed the legitimacy of freedom of navigation concerns in the South China Sea — a pet theme of the United States — but fused it with an early conclusion of a Code of Conduct (COC), of which China has been a strong advocate.

In 2002, China and the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) had signed a Declaration of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) with a view to promote confidence building measures and setting the stage for a binding COC.

Analysts point out that instead of taking sides, the DOC and COC are attempts at rule based management of potential conflicts in the disputed waters of the South China Sea.