NEW DELHI, Nov. 9: In a message unlikely to go unnoticed in Beijing, India has called for nations involved in maritime disputes to exercise self-restraint and not do anything which could affect peace and stability in the Indian Ocean region.
China has continued to build artificial islands in South China Sea (SCS) to validate its claim over 90 per cent of the sea waters and is currently testing a new dredging vessel, described by the media in south-east Asia as a magic island-maker.
Speaking at the inaugural session of second IORA Meeting of Experts for Maritime Safety & Security, foreign secretary of India S Jaishankar said India encouraged resolution of territorial and maritime disputes through peaceful means in accordance with universally recognised principles.
"We have always stood for exercising self-restraint in the conduct of activities that could complicate or escalate disputes affecting peace and stability," said Jaishankar, adding that India's own record in this regard was well known.
Recognising this growing importance of maritime trade in an increasingly globalised world, Jaishankar reiterated India's position that it supports freedom of navigation and over-flight, and unimpeded commerce, based on the principles of international law, particularly UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea) "that serves as a constitution for the oceans".
Beijing has also sought to transform its navy into a blue water force by acquiring capabilities which allow it to project power across oceans.
According to the foreign secretary, Indian PM Narendra Modi's strategic vision for the region had four key elements. First, to safeguard India's mainland and islands, defend its interests, ensure a safe secure and stable Indian Ocean, and make available our capabilities to others. Second, to deepen economic and security cooperation with India's maritime neighbours and strengthen their capacities.
Third, envisage collective action and cooperation to advance peace and security and respond to emergencies and, fourth, to seek a more integrated and cooperative future for the region that enhances sustainable development. TOI
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