South China Sea: Military exercises ‘must continue’ says expert
India and Japan’s defence ministers, Rajnath Singh and Nobuo Kishi respectively, issued a warning shot to China that it would “continue exchanging views” on the ongoing situation over the disputed region. Their promise will no doubt concern Beijing, which recently saw the US pass a bill to spend $18.5bn (£13.5bn) on its Pacific Deterrence Initiative to boost its military presence in the South China Sea. With most neighbouring South China Sea nations opposed to Beijing’s claim of sovereignty in the waters, fears of war have been sparked.
And China’s opposition further cemented India and Japan’s vision to collaborate and ensure all countries are given the appropriate rights in the South China Sea.
In a statement from the Japanese Ministry of Defence, Mr Singh and Mr Kishi said the two nations wanted to send “a clear message that they strongly oppose any attempts to unilaterally change the status quo by coercion or any activities that escalate tension”.
It also claimed the two ministers “shared the view on highlighting the importance of a free and open maritime order based on the rule of law”.
The pair, who met in December for negotiations, discussed the success of the recently signed Japan-India ASCA, a pact described by the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs as “establishes a framework such as the settlement procedures for the reciprocal provision of supplies and services between the Self-Defence Forces of Japan and the Indian Armed Forces”.
We will use your email address only for sending you newsletters. Please see our Privacy Notice for details of your data protection rights.
The Defence Ministry’s statement added: “The two ministers affirmed that they would continue to vigorously promote defence cooperation and exchanges to uphold and reinforce the Free and Open Indo-Pacific while maintaining close communication between respective defence authorities.”
Mr Singh tweeted after the conversation of his “satisfaction” over the ongoing relationship, adding India was “committed to further elevate engagement with Japan” over the region.
Relations between India and China hit a grim low last year, after both nations sent troops to the controversial Galwan Valley border, in Ladakh.
JUST IN: Beijing prepares for ‘World War III’ with US in South China Sea
Ladakh is an area of Kashmir which has been the subject of dispute between India, Pakistan, and China since 1947.
In June, more than 20 Indian soldiers were killed, along with 35 troops from China, in a bloody conflict that was the first between the two countries in 45 years.
It raised the serious prospect of war, and following the dispute India burnt Chinese products and even effigies of China’s President Xi Jinping.
Speaking at the time Mr Singh said India was ready to handle the situation but vowed “India and China agree to maintain peace and tranquillity” in the region, as it was “essential for the further development of bilateral relations”.
South China Sea crisis as Beijing furious over UK ‘plans’ for warship [INSIGHT]
South China Sea: Beijing conducts live-fire missile drill from base [ANALYSIS]
South China Sea fury: Beijing military bases ‘vulnerable to attack’ [UPDATE]
He added: “There are many agreements and protocols between both the countries to maintain peace and tranquility on the border.
“We have told China through diplomatic channels that the attempts to unilaterally alter the status quo were in violation of the bilateral agreements.”
Although the row was not over the South China Sea, it did escalate frosty diplomatic relations, and soon saw India and Japan consolidate its vow to work over the waters.
More recently, US Republican Senator James Inhofe claimed Beijing is “preparing for World War 3” in the South China Sea, adding it was “the most dangerous situation that we’ve ever seen before”.
Last week, the US approved its bill to boost its military presence with its multi-billion-dollar plan.
Mr Inhofe’s views were echoed by Democrat Jack Reed, a member of the Senate armed services committee, who said: “This is the first time we have really stepped back and said: ‘We have a new threat rising in the Pacific. We have to take a holistic view’.”
China and the US have clashed regularly over trade, coronavirus, human rights and other territorial disputes while incumbent President Donald Trump has been in power.
The US, and other western powers, refuse to accept China’s claim on sovereignty in the waters, demonstrating their anger by sending warships through the waters on “freedom of navigation” patrols.
Source: Read Full Article