India for maintaining Code of Conduct in South China Sea
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Last Updated: Saturday, February 08, 2014, 16:40
  
Port Blair: India is looking for an amicable solution for the present situation in South China Sea, but is also for maintaining a Code of Conduct for all countries so that tensions do not escalate, a senior airforce official said on Saturday.

Addressing mediamen on the sidelines of Indian Navy's ninth biennial international naval exercise MILAN 2014, Air Marshal P K Roy said India has a three point approach towards the situation in South China Sea, where multiple countries have commercial interests.

"First, freedom of navigation in the area should be in line with international maritime guidelines. Second, we would like to have an amicable situation and are working towards it.

"The third and last is,till these solutions are arrived at, we need to make some sort of code of conduct so that the situation does not escalate anymore.That is the way we look at it," Roy,Commander--in-Chief,Andaman and Nicobar Command,said.

China claims sovereignty over most part of the Sea, which is contested by Vietnam, Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei.

It has also protested to India over ONGC taking up oil exploration in the blocks claimed by Vietnam. India has however defended it as a commercial deal.

China had also reacted cautiously to Vietnam's offer to India of seven oil blocks in South China Sea, including three on an exclusive basis in November 2013.

To a query, Roy said the situation was not just between India and China, but between a few countries and their influence in the region.

Acknowledging there are "issues" with China, he said "But we also look forward to have strategic partnership with China. We are two countries who are growing... Maybe China is growing faster... If we keep thinking that both are threat to each other, we won't grow further. We look at China as a strategic partner."

He said he is aware of increasing Chinese influence in the region."There are more ships in Indian Ocean Region because of China's needs. We are aware of it. We are also increasing our capacity."

On reports of Chinese presence in Coco Islands,where it is reportedly helping Myanmar set up an airport, he said, "We are aware of it."

Roy said human trafficking is on the rise in the region from about 300 in 2011 to around 1,300 last year. "We let them go if they are moving east.But if they are in distress,we give them food,water and medicine.If their boats are not seaworthy we hand them over to the civilian administration here."

He said surveillance in the region is being stepped up and infrastructure increased."Within a month,four coastal security radar systems will be set up and put in use," he said.

PTI

First Published: Saturday, February 08, 2014, 16:40


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