China Cautions India Over US Designs On South China Sea

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10:35 am 15 Feb, 2016

China has warned India to remain “cautious” towards American overtures seeking India to play a larger role in the South China Sea dispute.

Chinese Foreign Ministry has hoped that “relevant parties…. avoid being manipulated by certain countries and ultimately harming their own interests.”

The response came in response to a Reuters report claiming that the US and India have discussed joint naval patrols in South China Sea.

However, Indian officials have dismissed the report and underlined India’s standing policy of not carrying out joint patrols with other nations in any part of the world, let alone the much disputed South China Sea. They said the country only takes part in international missions under the United Nations flag.

So far, India has adopted a balanced approach to the South China, most of which is claimed by China and disputed by a number of countries including Vietnam, Malaysia and the Philippines.

Recently, a U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyer, the USS Curtis Wilbur, sailed within 12 nautical miles of Triton Island in the disputed Paracel Islands in the South China Sea. This received strong condemnation by China.

According to US officials, the patrol represented a challenge not to any territorial claim over Triton, but to what the US sees as excessive restrictions from all three claimants on the waters surrounding the island.

The Pentagon confirmed that it sent a ship into waters claimed by China, calling it a “freedom of navigation” operation meant to challenge attempts by that country and others to restrict navigation in the area.

On its part, India has also laid emphasis on freedom of navigation in the disputed waters. For example, the Indian Navy has made it a point to frequently sail through the waters to underline India’s interests. But India hasn’t supported any of the claimants.

According to Wang Dehua, Director of the Centre for South Asia Studies at the Shanghai Institute for International Studies and a leading strategic expert, the US was looking to get India more involved in the dispute. He believes the US wants India to act as its agent.

He said that it is good that the Indian government has denied this report. He suggested that India should be vigilant on the involvement in the South China Sea. Dehua said that both countries should not get into provocative statements but should cooperate with each other.

The expert said that there should be no trouble or difficulty for foreign ships, including Indian ships, for peaceful passage. He, however termed American action very dangerous.

Like many other nations, India has become cautious on recent developments in South China sea, which China says that are on its territory.

In a statement to Reuters, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said, “no cooperation between any country should be directed at a third party”, echoing China’s often-stated position on the dispute.

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