NEW DELHI: India and the US on Wednesday joined hands to ask China to abide by international laws to resolve the issue in the South China Sea, where both countries have strategic and commercial interests.
India, so far, has refrained from directly commenting on the South China Sea, but the disputed maritime zone found its way to the India-US joint statement issued after the 2nd Strategic and Commercial Dialogue between the two countries that was co-chaired by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and US Secretary of State John Kerry.
“In the context of recent developments, the sides (India and US) stressed the importance of maintaining freedom of navigation, freedom of over flight, and unimpeded lawful commerce throughout the region, including in the South China Sea. They urged the utmost respect for international law, as reflected in the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS),” the two countries said in the joint statement. China had termed the judgment of the International Court of Justice, which upheld Philippines’ claims of sovereignty, as a farce and has even threatened to declare the airspace above the South China Sea as Air Defence Identification Zone.
In what could further add to China’s chagrin, the visiting US Secretary of State cited India’s example while exhorting Beijing to resolve its issues peacefully.
“India’s decision to accept an international tribunal judgment regarding its maritime border with Bangladesh actually stands apart. This is the model to help potentially dangerous disputes in different danger spots...These can be resolved peacefully, including the South China Sea (dispute),” Kerry said following interaction with IIT Delhi students.
“The United States continues to call on China and the Philippines to abide by the tribunal’s recent decision which is final and legally binding on both parties,” Kerry added as both sides reaffirmed to work together as “priority partners” in the Asia Pacific and the Indian Ocean Region (IOR).
Kerry also indicated that both the countries will “redouble” their efforts to secure India’s entry to the global body nuclear suppliers that seek to control nuclear proliferation by regulating the supply of nuclear material, equipment and so on.
India’s entry bid was scuttled by China that cited technical reasons for the denial. Speaking on terrorism in the subcontinent, Kerry said Pakistan could do a lot more to maintain peace in the region.
“It is clear that Pakistan has work to do in order to push harder against its indigenous groups that are engaged in terrorist activities. They must work with us to help clear sanctuary of bad actors who are affecting not only India- Pakistan relationship but also our ability to achieve peace and stability in Afghanistan,” he said.