NEW DELHI: India on Monday called for a demilitarised South China Sea free from ‘threat of use of force’. “Emphasising the need to protect the rights of states that are not party to these negotiations, Defence Minister Rajanth Singh expressed the hope that the situation will remain stable, without the use or threat of use of force or militarisation of the region,” a Ministry of Defence release said.
It said, “On the negotiations for a Code of Conduct for the South China Sea, he hoped that the outcome of these talks will be in keeping with all relevant international laws, including UN Convention on the Law of the Sea which promotes freedom of navigation, overflight and lawful commerce.”
Singh was addressing the 6th ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting Plus (ADMM Plus) in Thailand’s capital Bangkok.
South China Sea is a major waterway through which over US$ 5 trillion worth of trade passes, including 55% of Indian trade, as it engages with littoral states in the area.
Singh said India’s Indo-Pacific vision is based on the idea of sustainable security as it focuses on a free, open, inclusive and rules-based Indo-Pacific; one in which there is respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity of everyone involved.
“In short, our approach to security in the Indo-Pacific is sustainable by definition because it emphasises Security and Growth for All in the Region.”
He also urged members to eliminate terrorist havens, disrupt their networks and financing and thwart their movement to ensure regional security.
He stressed upon the need for a cooperative and consultative paradigm to deal with the complex security challenges while emphasising on de-nuclearisation of the Korean peninsula.