India, Japan oppose South China Sea status quo change

India, Japan send clear message to China: Will oppose bid to change status quo in South China Sea

India and Japan have regularly been discussing the evolving situation in the Indo-Pacific, and have signalled to expand cooperation

Issues relating to the regional situation figured during a telephonic conversation between Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and his Japanese counterpart. Credit: PTI file photo.

India and Japan on Tuesday sent out a strong message to China, stating that they would oppose any attempt to change the status quo in the South China Sea and the East China Sea.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh spoke to his new counterpart in the Japanese Government, Kishi Nobuo, and exchanged views on regional situations, including the East China Sea and the South China Sea. The ministers “concurred in sending a clear message”, strongly opposing “any attempts to unilaterally change the status quo by coercion or any activities that escalate tension”, according to a statement released by the Ministry of Defence of the Japanese Government in Tokyo.

Singh and Nobuo also agreed on the need for “a free and open maritime order based on the rule of law”.

The two ministers exchanged views on the security situation in the region and the need for a free and open maritime order based on the rule of law, the Ministry of Defence of the Government of India stated in New Delhi. It added that Singh congratulated Kishi on his appointment as Minister of Defence of Japan and expressed satisfaction at the ongoing defence cooperation between the two countries despite limitations imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic.

India and China are currently engaged in a military stand-off along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) – the de facto boundary between the two nations – in eastern Ladakh. The stand-off started when the Chinese People’s Liberation Army’s unilateral and aggressive move to change the status quo to push the LAC westward was thwarted by the Indian Army in late April and early May.

Japan is also concerned over China’s growing aggression in the South China Sea and the East China Sea. The tension between the two nations further escalated recently when China sent vessels to Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea claimed by Japan.

Singh and Nobuo noted that India and Japan recently signed the military logistics sharing agreement and held the Malabar 2020 naval exercise along with Australia and the United States.