NEW DELHI: With nearly half of India's trade passing through the disputed the South China Sea, the government today said New Delhi supports freedom of navigation and overflight through the disputed waters based on the principles of international laws.
In its ruling in July 2016, an international tribunal at The Hague, in accordance with the United Nations Convention on Laws of the Sea (UNCLOS) had ruled in favour of Philippines concluding China has no legal basis to claim rights to the bulk of the South China Sea.
"Government's position on this issue is very clear. India supports freedom of navigation and overflight, unimpeded commerce, based on the principles of international law, as reflected notably in the UNCLOS.
"India believes that States should resolve the disputes through peaceful means without threat or use of force and exercise self-restraint in the conduct of activities that could complicate or escalate disputes affecting peace and stability," Gen (retd) V K Singh, Minister of State said in a written response to a question in Rajya Sabha.
The Minister said SCS is a major waterway and trade volume worth over USD 5 trillion passes through the sea lanes.
Over 55 percent of India's trade passes through SCS and the Malacca Straits.
"India undertakes various activities, including cooperation in oil and gas sector, with littoral states of the South China Sea," Singh said.
Responding to a sub-question whether any consultation over the issue between India and China have been held in recent bilateral meetings, Singh said, Prime Minister Narendra Modi met his counterpart Li Keqiang in May 2015.
"No structured agenda-based meeting has taken place after that. However, PM Modi met Chinese President Xi Jinping several times last year, most recently at the BRICS Summit in Goa, where various issues of bilateral, regional and global significance were discussed. Both sides agree that peace and stability in our respective regions is important for realising the Asian century," Singh said.