India needles China over South China Sea

India on Thursday raised the pitch against China’s muscle-flexing in the disputed South China Sea, in an apparent retaliation to the communist country’s stand against New Delhi’s recent decisions on Jammu and Kashmir. 

“(The) South China Sea is part of the global commons. India, therefore, has an abiding interest in the peace and stability in the region,” Raveesh Kumar, spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs, said.

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

Beijing has recently joined Islamabad to criticise New Delhi’s decision to strip  J&K of its special status.

China’s moves in South China Sea has once again came under focus after the country deployed its survey vessel – Haiyang Dizhi 8 – in the Exclusive Economic Zone of Vietnam to re-assert its claim on the disputed waters.

The vessel, which is being escorted by at least two ships of China Coast Guard, sailed close to an offshore oil block, where ONGC Videsh of India has 45%, Rosneft of Russia has 35% and PetroVietnam of Vietnam has 20% stake.

The ONGC Videsh Limited has a long-standing partnership with PetroVietnam for exploration of oil and gas in Vietnam.

China, however, has been protesting the role of the OVL and other foreign companies in in the continental shelf of Vietnam.

“India firmly stands for the freedom of navigation and over-flight and unimpeded lawful commerce, in the international waters, in accordance with international laws, notably United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS),” the MEA spokesperson said on Thursday.

New Delhi also underlined that any differences must be resolved “peacefully by respecting the legal and diplomatic processes and without resorting to threat or use of force”.

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