The move comes after a Chinese research ship was expelled by India when it was caught operating without permission in waters near Port Blair, capital of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Officials in Beijing posted a notice on the Foreign Ministry website warning Chinese institutions, groups and individuals aiming to conduct marine science research in other countries’ territory that they would need “an explicit statement of consent” from that country.
The notice said: “Institutions or individuals must comply with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), obey the law of the country, follow the research programme approved by the coastal state, and shall not conduct scientific research in the waters under foreign administration without making application or without the application being approved.”
The announcement comes six days after the Indian Navy issued a report confirming it had challenged Chinese research ship Experiment 1 which was operating in the area without permission.
Indian naval chief Admiral Karambir Singh said: “Our stance has been that if you do anything in our region, you have to notify us or get our permission.”
Experiment-1 had been spotted by an Indian maritime surveillance aircraft while carrying out research activities in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
After an Indian warship approached it to issue warnings, the Chinese vessel retreated from the area.
China has greatly increased its presence in the Indian Ocean in recent years causing much concern in Delhi.
Admiral Singh said seven or eight Chinese ships could be found in the region at any given time.
Because of their strategic location between the Bay of Bengal and the Malacca Strait, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands provide a base for Delhi to monitor activity in the Indian Ocean and across Southeast Asia.
The military reacted swiftly to the presence of the Chinese vessel as it was possible it might have been spying.
More than 100,000 vessels a year travel through the Malacca Strait, which connects the South China Sea to the Indian Ocean.
About 60 per cent of that traffic is en route to or from China.
The compliance notice specifically exempts activities in waters that other countries dispute with China, which has been embroiled in territorial disputes with most of its neighbours.
The South China Sea has been identified as a major source of international tension in recent years, with China having fortified numerous uninhabited islands in a region it claims as being within its own territory, with tense encounters stand-offs between China and the US becoming a regular occurrence.
Eugene Gholz, an associate professor of political science at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana, told Express.co.uk: “I think there is certainly a constructive way forward for the United States: the United States should shift its military operational plans to the defensive, which will make them match our defensive strategic goals.
“The United States would be better off bankrolling Asian military’s investment in defensive technologies than in investing in comparable technologies to arm the US military itself, because the technologies are most useful when operated from land, and expanding US military land bases in Asia (especially putting new bases in Taiwan!) would be fraught with tension.”