Code of Conduct on South China Sea must be consistent with UN Convention: India at EAS meeting

China has claimed sovereignty over all of the South China Sea which is a huge source of hydrocarbons. To counter, India called for a rules-based order in the region by upholding adherence to international law.

Created On: Aug 5, 2021 10:37 IST
India at EAS meeting
India at EAS meeting

The External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on August 4, 2021, stressed that the Code of Conduct on the South China Sea must be fully consistent with the relevant UN convention.

He also mentioned that the negotiations on it should not prejudice the legitimate rights and interests of the nations that are not part of the discussions.

While speaking at a meeting of the East Asia Summit (EAS) virtually, Jaishankar highlighted the growing convergence of the approaches on the Indo-Pacific region among different members of the group.

The EAM, separately, also addressed a meeting of ASEAN-India Foreign Ministers and talked about various issues including connectivity. He also said that India has been looking forward to an early review of the ‘trade in goods agreement’.

South China Sea: Significance

China has claimed sovereignty over all of the South China Sea which is a huge source of hydrocarbons. However, several ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) member nations, including the Philippines, Brunei, and Vietnam, have counterclaims.

India has been calling and pitching for a rules-based order in the South China Sea region, including through upholding the adherence to international law, particularly the UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea).

Jaishankar during East Asia Summit: Key details

In his address at the East Asia Summit, S Jaishankar, apart from highlight South China Sea region, also extended support to the ‘ASEAN-five point’ consensus on Myanmar as well as welcomed the appointment of a special envoy.

The External Affairs Minister of India, during the summit, also spoke about the growing Coronavirus pandemic challenge faced by ASEAN nations and conveyed India’s support and solidarity to the member nations.

India at ASEAN Foreign Ministers meeting:

As per Jaishankar, the broader context in which India approaches its relationship with ASEAN today, as indeed anything else of significance is undeniably that of the Coronavirus crisis. He also noted that ASEAN member nations responded individually and collectively.

EAM also mentioned that these challenges bought India and ASEAN even closer, as support was extended to each other during the time of stress.

Jaishankar, while talking about ASEAN, noted that the group is held up across the world as a good example of multilateralism, regionalism, and globalization.

The theme ‘We Care, We Prepare, We Prosper’ under the chairmanship of Brunei also captures the outlook of ASEAN.

Jaishankar during the meeting also proposed 2022 as the ASEAN-India Friendship year for the 30th anniversary of the ties between India and ASEAN.

ASEAN-India relations:

The relations between India and ASEAN have been on an upswing in the last few years with a focus being on increasing the cooperation in the areas of security and defence as well as trade and investment.

India has been committed to supporting a unified, strong, and prosperous ASEAN, whose centrality in the Indo-Pacific is fully appreciated.

The strong convergence between the Indo-Pacific Ocean’s Initiative (IPOI) and ASEAN Outlook on Indo-Pacific (AOIP) proposed by India also adds another dimension to the contemporary partnership of India and ASEAN.

As much of India’s interests and relationships now lie to its east, it is a testimony of its healthy ties with ASEAN.

India has also been emphasizing accelerating the connectivity projects with a particular focus on trilateral highway and Kaladan projects.

The ambitious India-Myanmar-Thailand trilateral highway is expected to boost connectivity between three nations while Kaladan multi-modal transit project is being viewed as India’s gateway to Southeast Asia.

About ASEAN:

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations is considered to be one of the most influential groupings in the region. India and several other nations including China, the US, Australia, and Japan are its dialogues partners.

About East Asia Summit:

It is a premier forum in the Asia-Pacific region that deals with issues relating to security and defence. EAS for formed in 2005 and since its inception, it has played a significant role in the geopolitical, strategic, and economic evolution of East Asia.

Apart from the 10 ASEAN member nations, EAS also includes Japan, India, the Republic of Korea, New Zealand, China, Australia, Russia, and the United States.

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