South China Sea developments worry India

South China Sea developments worry India

Amid reports about China deploying surface-to-air missiles in one of the disputed islands in South China Sea, India on Thursday asked the neighbouring country to refrain from taking any “unilateral action” in the region.  

“India has consistently maintained all states should avoid unilateral action that can lead to tension in the region,” Vikas Swarup, spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs, said. He was responding to a journalist who asked for New Delhi’s reaction to reports about China deploying the missiles in one of the disputed Paracel Islands.

A news agency on Thursday reported from Washington that a US official had confirmed that the satellite images had suggested China deploying two batteries of eight missile launchers and a radar system on the Woody Island. Fox News earlier reported about the satellite images suggesting China deploying missiles. 

“India has consistently maintained that all states should avoid unilateral action that can lead to tension in the region,” Swarup added.

The report from Washington also quoted the US official as stating that the missiles appeared to be HQ-9s, which have a range of about 201 km.

The South China Sea has been at the centre of an escalating conflict between China and its maritime neighbours – Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam and Philippines.

New Delhi has been of the view that freedom of navigation in international waters must be protected. It has also been arguing that sovereignty issues must be resolved peacefully by the countries, which are parties to the dispute in accordance with accepted principles of international law, including the United Nations’ Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) 1982.

India also referred to the 2002 Declaration of Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea and called upon all to adhere to the code.

The 2002 code states that “the Parties undertake to resolve their territorial and jurisdictional disputes by peaceful means, without resorting to threat or use of force”.  

New Delhi has of late been raising its voice on the South China Sea dispute. Beijing is not amused and it has conveyed to New Delhi its unease, particularly reacting to reference to the row in the joint statement issued after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s meeting with his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe in December last. 

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